Sparta High School's Proposed Schedule Change

Credits: Keith Dericks

SPARTA, NJ – The Principal of Sparta Middle School Michael Gregory and Principal of  Sparta High School Dr Daniel Johnson presented proposed changes to their schools’ schedules for the 2015-2016 school year, at the rescheduled board of education meeting on Jan 29. 

The high school was presented first.  In addition to moving the start time back by 15 minutes to 7:20 a.m. the proposal represents significant changes to the school’s operation.

After the presentations, during the public comment portion of the agenda several people voiced concerns about the proposed changes.  They included the fact that parents and the community had not had a chance to hear and discuss the proposals prior to that night when they were on the agenda for a vote.  Superintendent Dennis Tobin had the vote on the proposed schedules removed from that night’s agenda to allow for further discussion. 

Sign Up for E-News

When asked for a comment about his proposal Johnson said, “The only thing I have to state at this time is that my desire in examining the schedule is to make sure that our school is as safe as possible, has a culture that is welcoming to all students in all grade levels, and retains its excellence in academics, which is paramount.  Over the past three years, we have continually demonstrated increases in our academic performance.  Administrative decisions have increased the culture of the building, leading to more acceptance and structure within our school.  It is our desire that these things be highlighted when defining administrative decisions.” 

The current high school schedule is a rotating schedule with four classes meeting before lunch and four after. This schedule has a 58 minute period designated to lunch, divided into lunch A and B.   Those classes rotate so that students and staff do not have the same class first period, last period or the period before or after lunch every day.  The rotation allows science lab to take place during lunch A or B when the science class rotates to the period adjacent to lunch.  The current schedule was researched prior to the reconstruction, including administrators, staff, board and community members visiting high achieving schools to see what was possible.  The common areas of the school were designed around this current schedule. 

Johnson’s presentation began with his concerns about the current schedule.  His concern is primarily focused on the lunch period.  He is concerned that there are not enough staff members to supervise the students in the cafeteria.  Currently three administrators, two vice principals and the director of guidance monitor the cafeteria.  There are also two security guards on duty at all times when school is in session, walking the building and parking lots, though they were not listed in the presentation.

With the current lunch plan students are able to eat in the cafeteria or on the bleachers of the auxiliary gym.  Some students also choose to eat on the floor of the hallways.  Johnson’s presentation indicated the cafeteria is able to accommodate 800 of the 1200 students in the school.  The school was designed to allow for an open campus lunch, with students able to move through the building to classrooms for academic assistance, music and art rooms, media center and other offices in the building.  Some students are not in the cafeteria at lunch because they are in science lab.

Johnson points to the lunch period as the time when “the largest number of incidents occur,” including “nearly 60% of the referrals [reports] of Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying.”  Last year the district indicated of all of the HIB referrals there were six confirmed cases of actual HIB.  He also cited concern from the NJDOE regarding having sufficient supervision in schools that have unit lunches, along with adequate plans for safety and security. 

The rotating schedule was an additional area of concern to Johnson.  The report states, “Since the rotation has been implemented we have seen an increase in tardies…they now have four times as many opportunities to be late before losing credit.”

Without the rotating schedule students will be pulled out of physical education for a science lab.  If they have two science lab classes they will have to miss physical education and lunch.    

The proposed schedule calls for a nine period day.  Four days a week the periods will be 43 minutes.  On Wednesdays however, every class will be reduced to 39 minutes to accommodate a 34 minute block at the end of the day for academic assistance. 

Currently students have access to academic assistance every day during the lunch period.  The proposal says English, History, Science and Math labs will be open during the lunch periods for students who do not want to wait until Wednesday.

Other districts in New Jersey high schools that currently operate on a rotating schedule are:

  • Chatham,
  • Mendham,
  • Livingston,
  • Northern Valley Regional,
  • Governor Livingston,
  • Ridgewood,
  • Madison,
  • Cherry Hill,
  • Kinnelon,
  • Morristown,
  • Hackettstown,
  • Randolph,
  • Highland Park,
  • Egg Harbor Township,
  • Paramus,
  • West Morris,
  • Glen Rock,
  • West Windsor-Plainsboro,
  • Hopewell Valley,
  • Lawrence,
  • Phillipsburg,
  • River Dell,
  • North Brunswick,
  • Verona

The proposals are expected to be discussed again at the Feb 23 board of education meeting.  That meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m., earlier than usual to accommodate several planned presentations.

The middle school proposal will be covered in a subsequent article.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Drug Charges for Sparta Woman After Traffic Stop

April 24, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A Sparta woman is facing drug charges after a traffic stop on Route 15.  On April 21 around 11:10 a.m. Sparta Cpl. Joe Antonello stopped Marina Scheer, 20, because the license plate on her green Toyota was bent making it impossible to read, according to police.

When Antonello spoke with Scheer he smelled marijuana in the car.  Scheer said there had been a passenger ...

Plane Crashes into Lake Aeroflex in Sussex County Park

NEWTON, NJ—A one-manned plane crashed into Lake Aeroflex in Kittatinny Valley State Park around 11:30 this morning.

“I heard the plane cut out, then I saw it turn left and flatten out, and then it landed in the lake,” passerby Justin Leyman said. “It took the rescue crews about a minute or so to get the pilot out of the lake."

The plane was completely ...

Sparta Police: Blocked Plate Ends with Drug Charges

SPARTA, NJ – A Phillipsburg man pulled over for a traffic stop, ended up facing drug charges on April 11.  Around 7:55 p.m. on Route 15 Sparta Police Officer Steven Guido stopped a silver Saturn Ion for having an obstructed license plate, police report.

Charles Williams, 29, was driving with two passengers in the car.  When speaking with Williams, Guido smelled marijuana in the ...

The Issue of Alternatives to Elected School Boards

April 14, 2018

The time of electing local school boards should come to an end. According to the National School Boards Association, “the local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways. First and foremost, school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, April 24, 7:30 PM


Sparta Township Council Meeting


Sun, April 29, 3:30 PM

Codey Arena, West Orange

Girls Try Hockey Free Clinic


Fri, May 4, 7:00 PM

Sparta Evangelical Free Church, Sparta

Veritas Christian Academy presents The Music Man

Arts & Entertainment


Sun, May 6, 7:00 AM

Liberty State Park, Jersey City

11th Annual Susan G. Komen North Jersey Race for ...

Health & Wellness


Thu, May 10, 6:00 PM

First Presbyterian Church of Sparta, Sparta

Creating a Pollinators Garden - Talk & Plant Sale

Education Home & Garden

Sun, May 13, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, May 27, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, June 10, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Newton Council Candidates Call for Elections to be Moved

April 12, 2018

NEWTON, NJ – Four candidates for the Town of Newton Council have the same idea; move the election for council members to the November general elections.  Candidates Matt Dickson and Jason Schlaffer and Ludmilla Mecaj and Wayne Levante just do not agree on how to make that happen.

As a Faulkner Act town, Newton originally established their non-partisan elections to be held separately ...

You Could WIN a New Roof Through No Roof Left Behind

If you live in Sussex, Morris or Warren County and your home needs a new roof, you’re in luck! Jeff Alte Jr. Roofing & Siding will be giving away a free roof to a family in one of these counties through the national No Roof Left Behind program.

Nominations are being accepted through May 31st online only.  Nominate yourself or anyone you know who needs a new roof. Nominees must ...

Buying a Home Is Cheaper Than Renting in Majority of US

Great news for first-time New Jersey home buyers! The results of the 2018 Rental Affordability Report from ATTOM show that buying a median-priced home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 54% of U.S. counties analyzed for the report.

The updated numbers show that renting a three-bedroom property in the United States requires an average of 38.8% of income.

The least ...

Home Buying Myths Slayed

Team Nest Builder wants YOU to know the truths about buying a New Jersey home!

Some Highlights:

The average down payment for first-time homebuyers is only 6%!

Despite mortgage interest rates being over 4%, rates are still below historic numbers.

88% of property managers raised their rents in the last 12 months!

The credit score requirements for mortgage ...

Buy A Home To Build Your Family's Wealth

Over the next five years, home prices are expected to appreciate, on average, by 3.6% per year and to grow by 18.2% cumulatively, according to Pulsenomics’ most recent Home Price Expectation Survey. Team Nest Builder wants you to understand what that means for homeowners and their equity positions.

As an example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home ...

Now’s the Time to Buy Your NJ Luxury Home

House no longer fits your needs? Planning on buying a New Jersey luxury home? Now is the time to do so!

Recently, the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing released its Luxury Market Report which showed that in today’s premium home market, buyers are in control.  The inventory of homes for sale in the luxury market far exceeds the number of people searching to purchase these ...

Buy a Home NOW Before Mortgage Rates Climb Higher

Whether you’re a buyer searching for your first home, or a homeowner looking to move up to your next home, Team Nest Builder knows you should pay attention to where mortgage interest rates are heading.

Over the course of 2018, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates increased from 3.95% in the first week of January to 4.40% in the first week of April.

At ...

A Special Performance by The Mental Health Players Raises Awareness of Mental Health Issues

April 23, 2018

In recognition of National Mental Health Awareness Month in May, the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, NAMI Sussex and Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services are coming together to sponsor a special performance by The Mental Health Players. The Mental Health Players is a group of volunteer performers who use theatrical improvisation and role playing to bring the ...