Buena will ring in 2023/24 school year with new block schedule


New Buena High School schedule, beginning in the 2023/24

Out with the old and in with the new; The 2023-2024 school year will be the start of a new bell schedule. Since opening in 1961, Buena has kept a traditional six-period day schedule. Recently, Buena staff approved to make the change to a block schedule with 7 periods.

This seven period schedule will potentially mitigate schedule conflicts and class overlaps. Students are often unable to enroll in all the classes they wish to because they are only offered during a specific period of the day. Mainly this issue affects AP classes and students who want to enroll in multiple at a time. This new schedule will open students’ schedules and allow for more options. 

The new schedule also mirrors Ventura High School, with a block schedule every day except Wednesdays, which will be an early release day, replacing late start Fridays, when the faculty has staff meetings and collaboration time. This new schedule will also remove BARK, the 30-minute enrichment and study hall between third and fourth period that has been in place since the 2009/10 school year.

Science teacher Michael Yorke and Metal and Woodshop teacher Scott Manninen both spearheaded these schedule changes. They have had the idea for over a decade, but have not been able to put the changes into effect as the schedule change has been voted down. 

If they haven’t taught in a block schedule it can be overwhelming, you do need to shift the way that you do things

— Norma Saatjian

Both teachers have visited schools that operate under a block schedule, and have observed the advantages and disadvantages that are associated with this. 

“I’ve visited schools. I’ve seen the light,” Manninen said. 

This schedule allows for more one-on-one personal interaction with students. Teachers are able to give more individualized attention to each group of students when supplied with ample time to do so. 

“An additional benefit would be on block days you only have half your classes. From a teacher perspective, you have half the number of students that any given day,” Yorke said.

It is also estimated that with fewer transitions throughout the day from class to class, students will have an easier time staying engaged and which can encourage higher attendance.

These longer class periods are extremely beneficial for culinary classes, science classes, and shop classes like wood shop, auto shop, and metal shop.

“There is a longer chunk of time to do more project-based [assignments],” Yorke said. 

This change will call for adaptations and adjustments not only for students but for teachers as well. Norma Saatjian, a history teacher here at Buena, has been teaching in a traditional six period schedule for eighteen years and is one of many who are prepared to make the necessary adjustments to her curricular for the benefit of future Buena students while acknowledging how a new schedule will impact teachers.

“If they haven’t taught in a block schedule it can be overwhelming, you do need to shift the way that you do things,” Saatjian said.  

Although associated with an array of benefits, there are still several challenges to be sorted out before the next school year begins.The removal of BARK may pose an issue to clubs like CSF, (California Scholarship Federation) who use BARK for community service tasks like campus beautification and assisting with office communications. There is no clear solution or plan to solve these conflicts yet. 

“It’s absolutely going to be a work in progress,” Assistant Principal Tiffany Dyer said, “We are going to have to work together as a team to figure that out.”  

BARK also currently supports several tutoring groups that will no longer be able to meet during this time. There will still be after-school tutoring sessions, and now with an extra class period added to the schedule, this could open other times for tutoring. 

This new opportunity of a longer class period may call for a different style of teaching. While some teachers may find that their teaching techniques are suitable for any class length, others may want to incorporate project-based learning, a style that many do not currently use. 

“We are already working with the district and within our site to design training opportunities for our staff on how to help them adapt to teaching in a block style,” Dyer said. 

Despite some confusion and unsureness between returning students and admin, this new bell schedule will continue to go into effect in the coming school year. Students and teachers alike will have to learn to adapt to new ways of learning and teaching. This change is accompanied by an array of advantages, but like any change, some issues need to be addressed to best serve Buena as a whole. 

“I think change is always scary, but I personally think [this] change can be for the better,” Dyer said.