Despite some challenges, the new, “hybrid” schedule at Decorah High School is going well.
At Monday’s meeting of the Decorah School Board, Decorah High School Building Leadership Team (BLT) representatives Mark Rhodes and John Condon briefed the Board on how students, teachers and parents are doing with the new scheduling.
Last spring, the BLT presented its plan to convert the 2018-2019 high school schedule from a traditional, seven-period day, to a schedule with several extended periods of learning, which include flex time. Flex time, which happens twice a week, allows for students to receive either additional help in specific classes or pursue additional coursework.
One of the driving forces for the extended periods and the flex time was to minimize the amount of time students involved in extracurricular activities would miss their core classes on a regular basis.
“It’s not perfect, but faculty and staff have responded really well,” said Principal Kim Sheppard.
Rhodes explained some of the challenges have been helping younger students organize their homework. Benefits have included additional time to schedule internships, college classes, ACT prep sessions, concert preparation, etc.

Approximately 85 percent of DHS students are involved in activities which require missing some class at the end of the day.
In the fall of 2017, 36 percent of students missed a portion of 6th hour and all of 7th hour for travel to after-school activities.
This year’s flex-time schedule takes place between 2 and 3 p.m. on days when students are most likely to travel to activities, therefore they miss less subject-related class time overall.

When comparing the traditional schedule to this year, Condon said, “The old way was very disruptive.”
In a survey of teachers, students and parents, all agreed the hybrid schedule provided “less stress for students.”
“Kids who are struggling now have a way to deal with it,” said Condon, adding the new approach is somewhat of a “work in progress.”
Sheppard added the faculty and staff have done a good job of supporting each other in negotiating the challenges.
“The kids were hesitant at first, but now the seniors think they will be better prepared for college,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard said she has already received inquiries from other schools about the new Decorah schedule.
“In the 12 years I’ve been here, this is one of the most innovative things I’ve seen us do as a District,” added Superintendent Mike Haluska.