While students returning to Carson High School on Aug. 27 may not have any difficulty finding their classes, they may struggle to remember when they are as the school transitions to a seven-period schedule.
"We needed to increase the number of classes we could offer as electives," said Principal Ron Beck. "We also needed to create more remediation classes."
Traditionally, students enrolled in six classes per semester. They attended three 105-minute periods each day, alternating subjects every other day. To fit in extra electives, several classes were offered as a "zero period" at 7 a.m.
Under the new schedule, students enroll in seven courses and attend three of them for 90 minutes each day. Those classes will alternate every other day, as they do now. The seventh period will be a 45-minute class that meets each day.
Zero period, with the exception of jazz band, has been eliminated, and school will begin five minutes earlier at 7:40 a.m.
Beck said the remediation classes will focus mainly on incoming freshmen who may be behind, particularly in language arts and science, as remedial math classes have long been established.
"We know that's when we lose kids," he said. "We lose them as freshmen."
The second target group will be seniors on the cusp of dropping out because of credit deficiency or trouble completing the senior project, he said.
When the plan was presented in February, some teachers protested that there was not sufficient time to implement the new schedule.
Beck said those teachers will need to adapt.
"They're going to have to get used to it," he said. "It's going to be something new, and it's going to be difficult. Flexibility is the key."
The other significant change will be a closed campus, where all students except seniors with more than 15 credits will be prohibited from leaving during the day.
Beck said an informal survey last year showed about 400 students were leaving campus for lunch. Of those, he said, more than 200 were seniors leaving for the day because they had enough credits to not require afternoon classes.
"That meant we had 1,600 to 1,700 kids on campus every day," he said.
He said the primary reason for closing the campus is to keep non-students out.
"That's been a big safety concern," he said. "We have a lot of kids who aren't students who come to cruise the parking lots at lunch. We're going to stop that nonsense."
Looking forward, Beck said, more changes may be on the horizon. He said it is becoming increasingly difficult to enforce the dress code, noting common violations that include spaghetti straps, short shorts and low-slung pants.
He said students will be asked to self-regulate this year. Beck said if problems persist, students will be required to wear a uniform.
"They need to consider if they're going to continue to violate the dress code, it's going to create no option for us but to go to uniforms," he said. "It's in the students' hands."
New Bell Schedule
7:40 a.m. - First bell
7:45-9:25 a.m. - Blocks A1 or B2 (Blocks rotate and meet every other day)
9:15-9:25 a.m. - Nutrition Break
9:25-10:55 a.m. - Blocks A3 or B4
10:55-11:25 a.m. - Lunch
11:30-12:15 - Block AB45
12:15-12:22 - Passing
12:22-1:52 p.m. - Blocks A5 or B6