The Ocean City Board of Education heard a presentation last week by Principal Matthew Jamison on restructuring class schedules at Ocean City High School to allow longer class periods.
"In a high school, our currency is time," Jamison said. "It's what we do."
Jamison told the board that the current schedule has students "moving at light speed" through eight instructional periods of 42 minutes, cramming a 21-minute lunch into the mix at some point.
The proposed new schedule would have students retaining a schedule of eight classes — but only six would meet each day, allowing 55 minutes of instruction. The class schedule would rotate — with each class meeting three out of every four days.
The longer class periods would allow "quality instructional time" and "longer periods for more active learning opportunities," Jamison said.
"Application is the name of the game," he said. "Student will have to apply knowledge."
Representatives of the high school visited schools in the northern (Chatham High School), central (West Windsor-Plainsboro High School) and southern (Mainland Regional High School) parts of the state in investigating the merits of the rotation schedule in action.
If approved by the Board of Education, the new schedule would be implemented with the start of the 2012-13 school year in September, and students would select courses by the end of March.
The rotation schedule is different than "block scheduling," in which the school year would be broken into two semesters — with students taking just four classes in each semester.
The proposed schedule would work on a four-day rotation with three of four morning and three of four afternoon classes meeting each day. The entire school would have the same lunch period under the proposed schedule.
The "unit lunch" is necessary to make the rotating schedule work, but also allows more opportunity for students and teachers to meet for additional guidance, according to Jamison.
The lunch plan would have students using a variety of school facilities to eat — including the existing cafeteria, the courtyard and gymnasium. Seven stations or kiosks would be set up to serve students a variety of foods.
Startup costs for the new rotation schedule — all related to the new unit lunch plan — would be an estimated $45,000 to $50,000 to set up the serving stations and equip new spaces for students to eat.
The Board of Education will likely consider the plan at its Feb. 22 meeting.
"We have to do something to let teachers unleash their potential," Jamison said in making his pitch for the new plan.