FTE is the common abbreviation for “full time equivalent.” Each teacher is considered a 1.0 or full-time professional staff member. In some districts, administrators, school counselors or social workers, librarians, and resource teachers are included in the same count.
Either as requested by the principal or pre-determined by the superintendent, school schedules are based on the FTE allocated. Principals must create schedules efficiently and equitably based upon this allocation. Principals should see both the big picture of the school as well as the unique learning needs of specific subsets of that population. These decisions must be based on hard data. Assignments should be equitable; teacher collaboration must be part of the equation. Considering all factors, schedules must set the stage for meaningful instruction for all students.
Although responsibility for creating the schedule may be delegated to others or others may be included in the process, the ultimate responsibility is that of the principal. Many schools have a scheduling team; the principal is the person responsible. Counselors are frequently involved in gathering data to build the schedule and resolving conflicts in a student’s schedule; the principal bears the responsibility.
With that background, the following tips are offered for effectively utilizing and supporting each allocated FTE at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Some suggestions may be unique to one level while other suggestions will be repeated. At each level, the building principal is responsible for effectively utilizing each FTE assigned to a building.
TIPS TO ENHANCE EFFECTIVE UTILIZATION: ELEMENTARY
- Establish a consistent range of average class size options in determining the number of teaching sections at each grade level.
- Arrange for specials teachers (full or part time) to be in the building at the same times to facilitate common planning time for cohorts of teachers.
- Determine the number of Special Education teachers needed based on IEPs completed at the end of the previous school year. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of pull-out or self-contained options as well as inclusion or co-taught approaches.
- Schedule specific times for intervention to maximize the utilization of resource personnel.
- Encourage classroom teachers of a grade level to schedule reading, language arts and mathematics instruction at the same times to allow for regrouping.
- Support subject matter specialization where appropriate.
- Explore multi-age grouping and looping options.
- Provide professional development to fully achieve the mission/vision statement and maintain the focus on student achievement.
TIPS TO ENHANCE EFFECTIVE UTILIZATION: MIDDLE LEVEL
- Provide professional development to fully achieve mission/vision statement as well as components of the middle level concept.
- Utilize projected enrollment to determine the number of teaching sections at each grade level.
- Consider two, three, four, five or six-section interdisciplinary teaching teams at each grade level.
- Involve faculty in selecting primary framework and inserts.
- Establish core program of studies to be congruent with the number of periods per day a teacher may be assigned.
- Train faculty in implementing the Flex/Advisory/Intervention period.
- Assign a sufficient number of teachers to conduct the exploratory/elective portion of the schedule to enable common planning time for one or more interdisciplinary teams.
- Schedule the exploratory/elective program so students from several interdisciplinary teams can participate in electives, including band, orchestra and chorus.
- Require minimum enrollment to offer elective courses.
- Determine the number of Special Education teachers needed based on IEPs completed at the end of the previous year. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of pull-out or self-contained options as well as the inclusion or co-taught approach.
- Encode the master schedule to produce individualized student schedules, including core subjects.
- Guarantee special needs and ELL students are placed in the least restrictive environment.
- Design the blueprint of the master schedule to enable consecutive core periods to maximize opportunities for flexibility.
TIPS TO ENHANCE EFFECTIVE UTILIZATION: HIGH SCHOOL
- Ensure that teachers are committed to achieving the mission/vision statement, including components of college and career readiness.
- Involve the faculty in selecting the primary organizational structure and potential inserts such as teams, academies, pathways and cohorts.
- Review and update registration materials to publicize programs and courses available.
- Monitor the course selection process to be certain that students have requested the correct number of courses.
- Utilize department summaries to identify the FTE desired in each department.
- Analyze the FTE distribution chart to confirm equitable distribution of available FTEs over all departments; alter department summaries when needed to ensure equity within the allocated FTE.
- Require minimum enrollment for elective courses.
- Create meaningful groups for teacher collaboration.
- Guarantee that special needs and ELL students receive the least restrictive environment.
- Use the conflict matrix tool to place singleton and doubleton courses on the grid of teachers’ assignments.
- Review each computer run of the schedule to identify changes that best accommodate student requests.
Building principals have a major task to effectively manage available FTEs. This responsibility is by no means limited to calculating staff needed for building a master schedule. Principals are charged with addressing unique needs of all students, supervising the teaching/learning process, monitoring the daily operation of the school, providing professional development and being accountable to the superintendent, Board of Education, and community.
Teachers, as well as the administration, have specific obligations to fulfill the mission/vision statement of the school/district.