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Arena Scheduling Cut at Staples High

In a 6-1 vote by the Board of Education on Tuesday night, the days in which Staples High School students had the opportunity to handpick the classes, teachers and time slots they wanted, are gone.

Known as arena scheduling , this long practiced tradition at Staples will be replaced with a computerized scheduling system. And though the majority of the board supported the change, Chairman Don O'Day stood by arena scheduling.

"My view on arena is that it's messy, it's cumbersome and it needs to be tweaked around the edges," he said. "But I'd like to go back to a comment I made at the kickoff ceremony at Bedford where I talked about culture and how proud and happy I was with the culture at Staples. Arena is part of that culture. To me, it's nothing more than choice."

O'Day said he believed the ability of students to select what teachers they will "mesh with" is important. And though he recognized the arena process was flawed, he said he believed the process could be made more efficient.

Superintendent Elliott Landon disagreed, saying that Staples administrators have tried countless times to make arena better, to no avail.

Wanting to satisfy both those for and against arena, Landon recommended phasing arena scheduling out over time, allowing current sophomores and juniors to continue while current freshman and entering students thereafter would get computerized schedules.

But in a motion made by board member Michael McGovern, the recommendation was amended.

"To me, arena is not part of the school's culture. I believe arena is the essence of entitlement: I don't think kids should get to pick their teachers," McGovern said. "The fact that our leaders are saying this has to go and the fact that we have a better idea says to me, 'Let's make the change and let's do it now.'"

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