The PHS bell committee is a group of PHS teachers and faculty members aiming to look at potential changes to the school day and school year. The committee brainstorms how to implement alterations to the PHS schedule such as combining classes, starting school later, and changing the setup of the yearly schedule.
The bell committee is led by Principal Snyder and consists of 16 teacher representatives from a variety of departments.
The bell committee met regularly in 2011 and made a few changes to the weekly schedule. They changed homeroom from a daily occurrence of 12 minutes to a 15 minute period on Wednesdays only, allowing them to make break longer.
After the homeroom time change, the committee became inactive. This past fall, PHS staff and faculty reopened the committee to discuss how to modify the daily schedule to minimize stress.
“We’re noticing, more and more, a lack of wellness among the faculty and the community… stress, lack of sleep, things like that. We want to see if we can change the schedule in a way that enhances wellness and learning at the same time,” said Dr. Robert Corell, a chemistry teacher at PHS and member of the bell committee.The current bell committee is thinking on a larger scale in comparison to what they have done in the past. It envisions changes like interdisciplinary classes that aren’t restricted to one class and one subject. Additionally, there is the possibility of restructuring the typical school day to more closely resemble a college day.
Another idea being discussed by the committee is the possibility of a later start time to the school day. With a later start time, teachers believe that the chronic problem of fatigue among students might improve.
However, according to Corell, when the school scheduled midterms from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., students had trouble getting to school due to traffic. Some students agree that a later start time would create more issues than solutions.
“If school started any later than the current time, athletics and after school activities would all get pushed back. I think the school should keep the start time the same, even though it feels early for the students and teachers,” said Renée Mellman ’20.
The committee is utilizing the ideas of teachers from various departments in order to look at further ideas while gaining student input as well.
“Each teacher on the committee went to their department and did a survey asking what the faculty would like [for the future of PHS], and, as a whole, we put together ideas that we would all love. We are taking our time and doing research about those specific ideas,” said PHS special education teacher and committee member Clare Krulewicz.
As the committee continues to brainstorm solutions, more ideas being discussed include revised block scheduling and an earlier start to the school year.
Regardless of the changes they make, the committee expects the alterations to be enacted gradually over the course of as many as ten years.
“Whatever the product ends up being, our hope is that it benefits as many students as possible in a number of different ways. [The changes made can help with] course offerings and better utilization of the time in the day, that can make for a more well-rounded high school experience,” said PHS history teacher and bell committee member Timothy Campbell.
Snyder and other members of the committee hope any changes they make will take effect as soon as 2020. The members of the committee are aiming to submit a report by June to the Student Achievement Committee, a subcommittee of the PPS Board, discussing any long term ideas the bell committee has.