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BCTF Research Report

Section XII

School Organization Alternatives:
A Consideration of Year Round, Shift, and Extended Day Options

A report prepared for BCTF Research
by Dale Gregory, Coquitlam


The provincial government has become concerned about the high capital costs for acquiring school sites and building new schools or replacing old schools. They have developed a multi-pronged program to reduce those costs. They recently introduced legislation, including the School Site Acquisition Act and an act to set up a leasing arrangement of school buildings from private builders in a type of partnership arrangement, to try to reduce these costs.

The other aspect of this program--the one which will affect students and teachers to a much greater extent--is the idea of "efficiency scheduling." This latest buzzword from the Ministry is used to encourage school districts to economize on the use of school buildings by putting more students through the building in a given time through a variety of changes to the school organization.

The three choices that have been offered to achieve this efficiency scheduling are:

  1. year-round schools
  2. shift
  3. extended day.

While the only apparent advantage of any of the choices is that more students go through the building in a given time period, there are a number of general concerns with all three alternatives.

There is more "free time" for students, either before, during, or after the school day. This creates additional supervision problems for teachers and administrators. The amount of time available for teachers to work with students outside the classroom situation is limited or affected. Extra-curricular activities such as clubs, intra-murals, and sports teams can be affected, curtailed, or eliminated completely.

Teacher timetables will also be affected by these changes. Their teaching time will either be compressed by the shift option or spread out by the other two options. Considerable vigilance would have to be exercised to ensure that contracts protect the working conditions of teachers in these situations.

Administrators and teachers would be required to spend more total time on the job with any of the choices, and building maintenance and security would also be a concern.


I do not propose to spend much time on this option. There is considerable research and information available on this topic. Charlie Naylor, of BCTF Research and Technology, has done three papers on this topic which highlight the major features. The Ministry has also contracted a literature review on year-round schooling, which is very biased toward the Ministry position.

From the governmentís perspective, the multi-track option is the only one that meets the criteria for "efficiency scheduling." This means that a percentage of the students, depending on the number of tracks, is on holiday while the remainder are in school. This, of course, creates a group of students who have "free time" while others are in the classroom. The extra supervision, and problem with dealing with these students when they come back to "visit" the school, is increased by the fact that the school may have no jurisdiction over them because they are "on holidays" and not registered in school. There is also the problem of athletes, drama students, student council members, etc., having activities that they would participate in occurring while they are on holidays. What is the status of these students? This type of situation could create problems and increase teachersí workload considerably.

A number of school districts in the province are presently on pilot programs investigating the possibility of a YRS system. An interim report to the District 43 School Board by a committee made up of teachers, administrators, students, CUPE reps, trustees, and district staff is worth reading. There is presently only one school in the province on the YRS system, an elementary school in Williams Lake, but it is on a single-track schedule. The single-track schedule is of no benefit to the government, because no money savings are made.


Historically, shifts have been used to house a group of students while a new school was being completed for them. This often happened in areas of high growth, and before the use of portables. The only advantage of this option was that more students could be accommodated in one building, but it would fulfill the criteria of "efficiency scheduling."

The disadvantages of this option include a very early start and finish for some students, and a late start and finish for others, a shorter time in class for all students, no extra-curricular activities, a large group of students on "free time," no space or time for individual help by teachers, and little time for building maintenance.

This organization has been used for a specific reason in the past and could be offered as an option for the governmentís cost- saving program, but my opinion, based on experience with it, is that it is the worst of the three options for school organization.


My opinion, based on experience with two of the options, and extensive reading of material on the third option, is that the extended day is the best choice if a school is "forced" into efficiency scheduling.

My experience with extended day comes from 15 years of teaching at Centennial School in Coquitlam. I propose to outline the schedule for Centennial, only as an example of the multitude of extended day schedules that are already in existence in many schools in the province.

Centennial is a semestered school for Grade 11 and 12 only, with a total of almost 2,000 students. There are no bells and no common lunch hour. The timetable is the same for each day and is as outlined below:

Block A     08:00 - 09:15 a.m.
Block B 09:20 - 10:35
Block C 10:40 - 11:55
Block D 12:00 - 01:15 p.m.
Block E 01:20 - 02:35
Block F 02:40 - 03:55

The variations on the schedule are for shortened days for assemblies and for staff meetings. On these days the classes are 55 minutes long and start on the hour. Assemblies are held between 11:00 a.m. and noon on Assembly Days, and staff meetings are held after class at 2:00 p.m. on Staff Meetings Days. Classes start each day at 8:00 a.m. With the introduction of Career and Personal Planning (CAPP) and other 2-credit courses, the school has adopted a Day One - Day Two schedule with the 2- credit courses being offered on alternate days.

Teacher loads are an important aspect of the extended day. Up until a few years ago teachers at Centennial had only three classes per semester. Teachers in each department have always had considerable say in what their timetable would be in terms of starting time, finishing time, and courses. Departments always worked out problems in department meetings. A teacher would normally finish teaching at 2:40 if they taught their first class at 8:00.

The contract in Coquitlam stipulates that each secondary (grades 8-12) teacherís weekly hours of instruction shall not exceed 25 hours and 45 minutes. (Hours of instruction include preparation time, scheduled tutorial and examination time.) At Centennial this means that in addition to in-class instruction, teachers are required to do some tutorial work to fulfill their hours of instruction time commitment. When teachers had three classes per semester, they were expected to do tutorials for 45 minutes each day. Due to decreases in funding and a change to the pupil/teacher ratio in Coquitlam, teachers were assigned more classes.

At the present time, teachers teach 3 classes per day in one semester and have 45 minutes of tutorial per day in that semester. In the other semester, teachers now teach 3.5 classes. The .5 class is either a CAPP class or a 2-credit class, or is a full semester class that is shared with another teacher. The result is that for a part of this semester the teacher is teaching 4 classes, on an alternate-day schedule for the CAPP or 2-credit classes, and every day for a reporting period, unit, or half of the semester, depending on the decision made by the sharing teachers. In this situation, very little time is left for tutorial (some 8 minutes per day on the days the teacher is only teaching three classes).

In Table 1 I have attempted to outline some of the advantages and disadvantages for the groups that are affected by these organizational changes. This list is not all-inclusive, but does reflect my 15 years of experience with this option in one school.


My biggest concern regarding any change in the organization of a school is that all of the affected groups are consulted and support the changes that are to take place. It is my opinion that the extended day is the best of the three options that I have looked at in this paper. Teachers who would be affected by an organizational change that would increase efficiency in the schools, in terms of the numbers of students put through the facility, should ensure that there is contract language to protect their hours of work and their working conditions.

Table 1

Group Advantages Disadvantages
Teachers * more flexibility
* breaks between classes
* more planning time
* choice of start time
* choice of finish time
* longer class period
* more space possible
* no common lunch hours
* lack of contact with some staff
* longer day
* noise in the halls from free students
* union meetings hear to hold
* department meetings hard to hold
possible contract problems
Students * some choice of start time
* some choice of finish time
* study time between classes
* athletes have no Block F class
* no common lunch hour
* noon-hour activities gone
* noice in hall disturbs class
* early start for some
* late class not popular
Administration * more students in facility
* administration costs down
* less portables needed
* parent concerns re. student free time
* longer hours on the job
* more free students to worry about

Centennial Extended Day -- Grades 11 and 12, semestered

Block A     08:00 - 09:15 a.m.     No bells
Block B 09:20 - 10:35 No common lunch hour
Block C 10:40 - 11:55
Block D 12:00 - 01:15 p.m.
Block E 01:20 - 02:35
Block F 02:40 - 03:55

Alternate day -- Day 1, Day 2 for CAPP and 2-credit courses

Shortened days: Assemblies     11:00 - 11:55
Staff meetings 2 p.m.
Classes 55 minutes long

Teacher Load -- 25 hours, 45 minutes per week

3.5 classes in one semester     3 in other semester
0.5 class shared, or a CAPP class or
2-credit course
some tutorial time required
(45 minutes/day)

part of semester, 4 classes per day
alternate days with CAPP or 2-credit
unit or reporting period with shared class
some tutorial time required on days with 3 classes (8 minutes)

teachers in departments establish timetables and loads

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