In light of current economic conditions, high school principals should prepare for the possibility of staff reductions for the 2020-2021 school year.
Principals are challenged by the conflict between organizing schools for effectively addressing the needs of a diverse population and the reality of the financial allocation for staffing. Caught in this dilemma, principals should consider the following suggestions:
- Reduce the number of periods in the school day. Schools with eight instructional periods plus lunch could reduce to seven instructional periods plus lunch.
- Explore a trimester schedule for schools planning six instructional periods plus lunch. This model increases student opportunities for elective courses and provides jobs for elective teachers.
- Utilize department summaries to objectively determine Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for each department. Based on the number of sections desired and frequency of class meetings per week, an aggregate number of periods of instruction in each department is calculated. Dividing the aggregate total for the department by the number of periods a teacher may teach contractually, the number of teachers allotted to a specific department is determined.
- Establish the minimum number of students for class size in elective offerings. When students make course selections, they should name an alternate for each elective requested.
- Offer Advanced Placement courses on an alternate year basis. Encourage middle school counselors to guide eighth graders in formulating a tentative four-year high school plan. This plan can be updated annually.
- Create a chart listing each department and FTE initially requested. If the total FTE desired for the school exceeds the allocation, identify teaching sections of specific courses to be reduced. This adjustment will reduce the FTE for an individual department and ultimately reduce the FTE for the school. Equity is important.
- Analyze the impact of sharing teachers with another school. What percent of the workday (.2 or .3) is lost to travel? Review licensure of shared teachers to identify individuals who could be full-time in that building.
- Consider videoconferencing with a neighboring school for low enrollment or AP courses.
- Devise specific teacher assignments before building the schedule. Confirm that each section approved in the budget is assigned to a teacher. In that process, balance the average daily pupil load with the number of preparations within a department.
- Maximize proficiency in utilizing the conflict matrix strategy to avoid creating doubletons when the number of students involved could potentially be scheduled in one section.
- Parallel sections of a mathematics or world language course to provide the opportunity for grouping and regrouping students throughout of the school year. Pre-test data and learning styles inventories enhance the success of this strategy. This strategy may minimize the number of sections needed for that course. Professional development is essential for effectiveness.
- Evaluate placements of special needs students. These decisions must be based on specific details of the IEP and a commitment to provide the least restrictive environment.
- Explore the potential of extended time period schedules to maximize opportunities for project-based learning and include Tiers I and II of intervention in the regular class period. Day 1/Day 2, trimester, and rotating-drop schedules provide opportunities for extended time periods. Professional development is essential to alter organizational structures.
- Offer a variety of approaches for credit recovery to maximize the number of students who may graduate within four years.
- Align the bell schedule with the schedules of students leaving the building for a morning or afternoon Career Technology Education (CTE) program. Avoid creating additional sections of a required core course to compensate for bell schedules that are not aligned.