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With an eye toward streamlining a scheduling process described as neither efficient nor always effective, East Aurora High School Principal Jay Hoagland unveiled a new format that would change the way high school students select their classes. It could be in place as early as next fall.

The new endeavor, dubbed “arena” scheduling, would scrap the old process in which the master schedule was driven by student selection. Instead, students and their parents would select a track, such as technology, art or business, at the end of middle school, then choose offered courses and electives from a predetermined range of classes set by the administration in advance. Not all courses in a sequence would be offered every year, but rather over a set of four years. Counselors would review the selections afterward.

“The accountability for this will shift to the students and their parents and we think significantly reduce the number of requests for course changes,” Hoagland said.

He said the current system results in a number of scheduling conflicts and solving those eats away at the guidance counselors’ time. Those adjustments are also a source of frustration for teachers who complained that last-minute student roster changes exacerbate problems at the start of the school year.

However, to make this change work, Hoagland told the board that next year’s budget for the high school would need to be in place by next month and could not be reduced in March or April when budget refinement generally takes place.

While the board has scheduled a vote concerning the new scheduling model for its next meeting, some members asked about other schools’ experience with arena scheduling. Hoagland pointed to a school in Pennsylvania, similar in size, that has used the system since 2005, but he was not aware of any local schools that have adopted it.

The high school principal acknowledged that the system would likely mean a tougher road for students who want to change their program mid-stream. The elimination of less popular electives would also take a hit, even AP classes. “It will be based on numbers,” he said.