The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School

The Tom Tom

The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School

The Tom Tom

The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School

The Tom Tom

School day shortened by 20 minutes next year

Length of class, lunch, and GPS, will change
Heading home. At 3:20 p.m. on May 7th, sophomore Charles Buchanan exits the school. Starting next year, students will be dismissed at 3:00 p.m. “I think that’ll be nice. Just less time in school… more time to do stuff,” Buchanan said. Photo by Evelyn Carozza

Bellevue Public Schools plans to shorten the school day by 20 minutes in the 2024-25 school year to give teachers more professional work time.

At Bellevue East, this change will result in a slightly altered schedule, with students now being dismissed at 3:00 instead of 3:20. Lunch will be lengthened by five minutes, and each block will be shortened from 90 minutes to 85 minutes. Principal Jeffery Wagner said he doesn’t expect the change to have much of an impact.

“I think in 85 minutes, you know, you’re not losing a significant amount of actual instructional time,” Wagner said. “You might be losing a little bit of work time, but you also have now more time after school to work.”

Guided Personal Study (GPS) will be kept but shortened by 10 minutes. Wagner said that a majority of students he talked to wanted to keep GPS, saying that they used the time for clubs, homework, or other activities.

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“It gives you a place to work, to just wind down, to just go amongst your peers, get your homework done and everything, and just communicate with your teachers about what you need to work on,” sophomore Malachi Smith said. “That’s what Guided Personal Study is for, because for some of us who are trying to take certain classes and aren’t fortunate enough to be able to have a study hall, that’s all we have.”

Another effect of the shortened school day will be more professional work time for staff. While students will now be dismissed at 3:00 p.m., teachers will continue to stay at school until 3:30 p.m. This change was intended to give teachers time to plan and meet with colleagues.

“With the added work time for teachers at the end of the day, that definitely gives us more time to kind of plan, maybe do some phone calls, emails home, things like that,” instructor Michael Tackett said.

To prevent bus routes from overlapping, the school day will be shortened by 20 minutes at the middle and elementary school levels as well. However, it is up to each school to decide what time to cut from the day. Wagner said that he consulted with teachers and students to determine what changes would work best for everyone.

“We surveyed our staff and said, here’s some different options. What do you prefer and why? About 82% of the staff liked the 85 minute class period, 30 minute GPS or 35 minute GPS,” Wagner said. “So then we talked to some students informally. We talked to probably 40 different kids, 50 different kids.”

Bellevue West has a different schedule next year, with each period being lengthened by three minutes. GPS will be eliminated at West, but advisory will still occur once a week attached to 2nd block.

“I do get why West is getting rid of GPS, because a lot of kids don’t use it. So why have it?” Tackett said. “It just stinks for those that do work.”

Several years ago, BPS added 20 minutes to the school day to gain more state funding. That financial benefit is no longer in place, which Wagner said started the discussion about shortening the day. 

“Teachers and staff feel like, well, we added 20 minutes, why don’t we take that 20 minutes away then if we don’t get anything financially from it? So I think that was kind of the impetus of the decision,” Wagner said. 

The new schedule will not cause the Bellevue Public Schools calendar to change. High school students in BPS will spend approximately 1,261 hours in school next year, which still exceeds the state requirement by 181 hours.

“Bellevue has quite a few minutes built in,” Wagner said. “So that’s why we really don’t worry about the snow days and stuff either, or you know, we’re not like some districts where you may have to make up snow days because we have those days built into the calendar. So that 20 minutes doesn’t impact the state required time or anything like that.”

The shorter school day may offer more opportunities for extracurriculars, as well as more time for high schoolers to relax, do homework, or spend time with family and friends. In fact, many of the most academically successful countries around the world have shorter school days. According to Juni Learning, students in Singapore spend around 5 hours a day in school, but are the highest performers on the Program for International Student Assessment.

“A lot of us do things outside of school and shortening that could help us get to some of the priorities that we have that may be attached to school and may not be attached to school,” Smith said. “We can enjoy being home more.” 

However, some concerns about shortening the school day include the conflict with parents’ job hours, which are traditionally 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. According to EdWeek, scheduling disconnect causes more problems for parents with low-wage jobs that offer little flexibility. However, Wagner said he appreciates how all schools are losing 20 minutes at the end of the day, regardless of instructional level.

“If you have multiple grade levels of students, you know, your pickup times, your drop off times, everything like that stays the same for families, which I think is nice,” Wagner said.

The new schedule will be implemented starting in the 2024-25 school year. Wagner said that he believes that students are resilient enough to adapt to the schedule changes. 

“We’re going to continue to do the best things that we do,” Wagner said. “I think we came up with a really good schedule for everybody.”

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Victoria Bogatz, Entertainment Editor and Social Media Manager
Hi! My name is Victoria, and I’m the entertainment editor and social media manager for the Bellevue East Tom Tom. I love writing, running, playing piano, activism and food. Fun fact: My favorite color is purple.

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