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Saugus middle and high schools to have longer but fewer classes per day

Saugus High School.
Saugus TV currently rents space at the rear of the existing Saugus High School. (File photo)

SAUGUS — A new schedule with longer class times and fewer classes per day will be rolled out at the middle and high schools at the start of 2019.

“We all agree that the schedule at the high school and the middle school — we’re looking for longer instruction blocks, we’re looking for a schedule that unifies the building, we’re looking for a schedule that will help move instruction forward,” said Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi.

The new schedule reflects longer blocks. In a given day, students would have three blocks that are each 72 minutes long and two blocks that are 60 minutes long each. The schedule would run on a seven-day rotation, dropping two blocks a day.

The current daily schedule includes classes ranging from 48 minutes to 84 minutes long at the high school and 52-minute blocks at the Belmonte Middle School.

“You won’t see the same teacher every (single) day but the longer block time will allow more instructional time,” said DeRuosi. He added that the adjustment will align better with more personalized learning, which goes with the educational plan the district is shifting toward.

“We’re at the point where this meets the needs of the parties involved,” said DeRuosi. “This schedule might not be here 10 years from now, but it does meet the criteria of what we’re looking for (now).”

The new middle-high school is expected to be completed in 2020. Once all students are under one roof, it’s important to keep scheduling and policies consistent, he said.

“This is teacher-generated, which I think makes a difference,” he said.

School Committee chairwoman Jeannie Meredith said she wished the new schedule could be rolled out at the start of the school year.

“I don’t want to see the can be kicked down the road,” she said. “I really do feel like these block time changes are going to be the key to — or at least a big component (in) — closing that academic achievement gap that we keep talking about.”

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