Adapting to the Old

A look into the decision to change Sandpoint High School’s schedule.


In March of 2020, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Lake Pend Oreille School Board made the decision to finish the 2019-2020 school year in a distance learning format. These changes were sudden and did not leave much time for teachers and staff to adapt. After nearly three months of distance learning to finish the school year, the LPOSD Board and Administration decided to adopt a new temporary schedule format to reduce regular exposure to other students and potentially transmit the virus.


 The new schedule format, known as the 4-by-4 or four-block, was designed to reduce the number of face-to-face interactions taking place on a regular basis as possible. This new plan split up the year into four terms. Different from the A/B Day schedule, the four-block method breaks up the school year into four terms as opposed to two semesters. Classes that regularly meet every other day for the whole year now meet every day for half of the year and classes that would regularly meet every other day for half of the school year are now compressed into one quarter. This plan has many advantages and disadvantages affecting student growth. When interviewed Vice Principal Derek Dickinson detailed how “one of the big disadvantages is the AP tests.” These tests are taken by students in higher-level classes to earn college credits and potentially save money on college tuition. He also explained how “the AP tests are a big stumbling block because you have students who might take an AP class in the fall and they don’t take the test until the spring”. “One other drawback is in courses like math where it is important to have continuity where you’re staying in the subject matter and having more exposure to help learn.” In years using the A/B day schedule, students visit their classes all year and the only time off is over summer break. With the four-block schedule, there is a chance you could have up to a full calendar year without that class. Although there were many people who are supportive of the four-block schedule, it ultimately lost the vote to readopt it. Since it was created as a temporary interim schedule, the negotiated contract with teachers gives them the authority to change the schedule through a vote. A supermajority, or two-thirds, is required to reject the default plan and switch to a new one. In the vote on whether to readopt and keep using the four-block or not, only 44% of teachers voted to continue using it. This not being a supermajority, the chosen schedule automatically reverted back to the A/B day format. When contacted through email, David Miles, SHS Principal, clarified that “there is no change in overall total minutes in either schedule. Maybe by chance with certain holidays or number of minimum days”. From a purely on paper schedule – the minutes are exactly the same.” Mr. Dickinson wanted to add that there are pros and cons to all schedule options and the decision was made thoroughly.


While many students feel the four-block schedule is the better option, the decision that was made is not necessarily permanent. The conversation will be continued including ideas of hybrid options incorporating both schedules along with survey results from staff, parents, and students to gain an understanding of the community’s thoughts and ideas.