Phoenixville eyeing new 8-period high school schedule

Phoenixville Area School District
Phoenixville Area School District

PHOENIXVILLE — The schedule at Phoenixville Area High School may be changing to one with more — but shorter — periods to better coordinate with the middle school for shared use of facilities, staff and resources, among other reasons.

Phoenixville Area High School students would gain one period in their daily schedules, but most periods would shift from 50 minutes to 43 minutes, according to a presentation from high school principal Craig Parkinson.

“It’s something that’s been received well,” said Parkinson, describing meetings with students, parents and staff about the schedule. “I hope it’s continued to (be) received well.”

Parkinson said planning for the new schedule has gone on for more than two years.


By going to the new schedule, Parkinson and district administration believe that students will have more options to take additional, different or elective courses.

The new schedule is more conducive to “greater diversity...on (a student’s) transcript” for college and also provides more of a chance to participate in internship programs in areas like engineering and teaching, Parkinson said.

“I’ve heard from some students who take AP (Advanced Placement) courses or advanced courses and their schedule fills up and they don’t have time to take that fun course,” said Phoenixville Superintendent Alan Fegley. “This schedule will allow them to do that ... (the students) were excited about that.”

Adding an additional period also allows for certain courses to add an extra lab to expand instructional time with students.

Something new to the high school schedule is a 40 minute period designated as “principal discretionary time,” a period designed to allow for preparatory work and collaboration between teachers. It was something eluded to in last spring and summer’s contract negotiations with the district’s teachers.

“During this time we’re going to allow for our teachers to meet, professional development opportunities, to sit and talk about curriculum issues,” Parkinson said. “One very important thing to note is the students seemed very excited that this time will also be used for students to come in and meet with teachers, to receive additional support prior to the start of the school day.”

Another change in the eight-period schedule is home room and first period will be combined.

Parkinson and Phoenixville Area Middle School Principal Frank Garritano believe the new schedule syncs up schedules better so the high school students can use facilities at the middle school including music and technology resources and middle school students can come take high school-level courses.

Such a schedule would create a true “secondary campus,” which has been a goal of the school district in recent years.

“It’s going to be a wonderful thing for us,” Parkinson said.

High schoolers’ school day will start at 7:50, half an hour later than they start now, but dismissal will be the same time.

Lunch periods will remain 30 minutes for students.

Fegley said the high school’s “counselors are on-board” with the eight period schedule, which will likely begin next school year.

Simply changing the schedule to eight periods a day does not affect staffing levels, Fegley said, but potential increases in enrollment might prompt hiring more teachers for those classes.

Information sessions on the new schedule are being held for parents at times in both the morning and evening for the next several weeks. Check the high school’s official website for the dates.

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.