Flex and Skinny Friday Need To Be Changed


On Oct. 18 a student-led organization identified as Portland Public Change started a petition directed at PPS district officials. The petitioners were advocating to switch Flex to the last period of the day rather than the current position, between first and second period. The petitioners also proposed eliminating “skinny” Friday, during which classes are cut to 44 minutes in order to fit all eight periods.

As of Oct. 27, the student-led organization deleted their petition for a reason we are not aware of and left no trace of who they were.

Despite its removal, the petition inspired an interesting discussion about Flex and skinny Fridays. I began to explore the policies around Flex and the impact it has on students.

Flex has been incorporated into the school schedule in the district for about 10 years and was widely supported by students and staff. Now, students have openly described it as stressful and a waste of time.

Cleveland altered the schedule this year to effectively solve one issue: students misusing Flex. The Cleveland administration argues that by moving Flex between the first and second period and assigning fewer Flex periods, students would stay on task and inside the building. According to the Trivory app, the administration has scheduled 13 Flex periods for the semester.

Principal JoAnn Wadkins defines Flex as “a period that would be a flexible time for students to engage in the school more broadly… . For example, seeing a teacher and getting help, perhaps also even going to a place to finish that last bit of writing.”

The petitioners’ goal reflects their belief that the schedule is unfair. They proposed a return to the 2019 bell schedule, which would have Fridays on a regular rotating block schedule. They believe that since the school year started, it has been hard for students to adjust to the new schedule, and the effects have overwhelmed the students around the district. In addition, the petitioners mentioned the schedule has been a problem for teachers, as they are also pressured to adapt to the new schedule without sufficient help.

I agreed with the petition and what it stood for, because I felt that students like myself are getting overwhelmed by the effects of skinny Fridays and the unorganized layout of Flex occurring after the first period.

I believe that changing the Flex schedule and removing skinny Fridays is a great idea on the basis of how it eases the intensities of school and promotes productivity. Personally, during Flex time, I find myself unproductive when I don’t have work, so it gets frustrating figuring out what I need to do. Essentially it’s time at school where I’m doing nothing. This is due to the fact that it’s a better use of time to stay at school only if we have work to do, which is accomplished if we have Flex at the end of the day.

I also believe skinny Fridays should be turned to a normal four period day on the basis of unproductivity as well. Students are so used to working for an hour and half, so when you lessen that time by half, it makes it hard to finish work and feel productive. From an interview I had with the principal, she stated that it was optional that this school uses the current Friday schedule. This means that it’s something our administration can choose to change. As it is not pressured by the district.

We urge the administration to take into consideration the unintended consequences that have resulted from Flex, recognize the initiative from the student body, and give us a voice to change something we believe is unbalanced.