SPS Principals versus Board of Education in schedule debate


Courtesy of Stamford Public Schools

A hypothetical student schedule under the district’s favored option for next year, the 4-by-4 hybrid.

Philip Childakos, Staff Writer

The new semesterised schedule has brought up a lot of problems according to administration and department heads. Principals Matt Forker (Stamford High) and Michael Rinaldi (Westhill) urge district leaders to not go ahead with the new schedule. The hybrid 4-by-4 schedule, the schedule favored by the district, means that four classes will meet for the duration of a semester including some in the A/B every other day system for the entire school year.

The principals previously stated that they support this system, but now collectively say that due to scheduling issues they are not in support of it. Now they support the use of the A/B schedule, which the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering has been using for a few years and has proven to work well for them.

Their reasoning, according to an email that was sent out, is that there are too many scheduling problems, and many students need schedule fixes which will be possible to fix, leaving them with gaps and no classes in their schedule.

AITE and Westhill faculty initially complained that they weren’t included in the original thought process, so the district allowed AITE to stay with their current schedule and allowed WHS and SHS to operate only some classes under the A/B schedule.

However, in a May 31 letter, Rinaldi and Forker wrote to the district, “As our high school schedulers have now worked through the process of building the hybrid [4-by-4] schedule, several serious concerns regarding the feasibility, sustainability and success of the hybrid [4-by-4] have come to light.” They explained that they found students are unable to switch out of a class when it is too hard, moving from AP to honors, since they run on different schedules in the hybrid model. They stated, “This would potentially impact students’ ability to graduate on time.”

Another problem that the two principals brought up is the insufficient staff for the new schedule, saying, “this incompatibility lessens the likelihood of being able to fully staff all class sections.” Presumably, this would result in more students using Edgenuity or some other form of learning without a teacher, which has been proven to be less effective.

Both principals believe that the use of the hybrid schedule will be terrible and have a “catastrophic impact on academic achievement.”

Following the release of the principals’ letter, Stamford High School union representatives posted a poll asking if they are for the Hybrid or for the A/B schedule. A total of 74 percent of the teachers at the school responded to this poll, and 98 percent of them favored the A/B schedule.

In an interview with the Stamford Advocate published June 3, Superintendent Tamu Lucero announced that, despite the principals’ strong effort to stop this, Stamford Public High Schools will go through with the hybrid schedule for the 2022-2023 school year.

In an interview with Emilia Otte on CTExaminer, Lucero said that the problems that the principals put forward will be mitigated. She stated, “We have listened and understand all the concerns presented and are confident that we will be able to address them all as we move forward.”

The president of the BOE, Jackie Heftman, says “The superintendent recognizes the challenges associated with instituting a new high school schedule. She is providing support to the schedulers and is confident that they will successfully complete their task.” She said that she will help with scheduling, and understands the concerns.