District System of Support for the Master Schedule Process and Product

District System of Support: A systems approach to supporting effective master scheduling.

What is the role of the district in high school master scheduling? Is it to lead the work or simply monitor the work? Is it to assure compliance or to encourage innovation?

Meredith Honig’s “From Tinkering to Transformation: Strengthening school district Central Office Performance,” describes three key features of effective districts:

  • Intensive partnerships between top level district staff and school leaders
  • A responsive menu of high quality, performance-focused services for schools
  • District leaders committed to continuous learning and building the capacity of district staff to better serve schools and support effective reforms.

In the master schedule sphere, a district system of support might include the collaborative development of District-wide Master Schedule Guidelines and Timeline. It might mean that a top-level district administrator or team is primarily responsible for the direct support of site administrators and master schedule teams involved in the master schedule process. And that district staff with master schedule and information technology expertise, especially as related to the District’s Student Information System Software, are assigned to provide customized, responsive services to support effective master scheduling.

A District System of Support would include a strategy in place to develop the knowledge, skills, and capacity of site master schedule teams, including master schedule training for master schedule teams. It would also mean that there are real efforts to create a community of practice around master scheduling and regularly scheduled collaborative dialogues involving both district and school staff to understand and address master scheduling needs and to co-create master schedule solutions.

A District system of support also includes the documentation and sharing of effective practice, supportive triage for sites with specific scheduling challenges, and collaborative assessment of the master schedule process and product.

Overview of the District Tasks and Timeline at each stage of the Master Development and Support Process (the abridged version)

Stage 1: Planning, Design, and Preliminary Tasks
Stage 2: Program of Study Selection, Course Selection, and Tallies
Stage 3: Building the Master Schedule
Stage 4: Analysis, Adjustment and Distribution of Student and Teacher Schedules
Stage 5: Fine-tuning, Readjustment, and Assessment

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
– African saying

The following tasks and timeline are aligned with CCASN’s Five Stages of the Master Schedule Process. Master Scheduling is complex and, ideally, a District’s strategy for supporting sites in achieving the most effective master schedules possible will be highly strategic and designed to build a strong, district-wide community of practice around master scheduling.

A typical District master schedule support time line will include some of the following steps (among many other possible steps) in the master scheduling process.

Please note that the Stages of the Master Schedule are not entirely linear and that they sometimes overlap. Sometimes, too, a master schedule team will cycle back to re-do a step or tweak an element; sometimes they will surge ahead on a particular aspect of the master schedule process. This timeline and the tasks suggested are meant to be adjusted and expanded upon for your particular context.


Typically on a traditional school calendar year, Stage 1 occurs August – December

Getting Organized

Start With the Learning
Start with a vision for student learning and achievement.  The very best master schedules reflect the school’s and the District’s deepest beliefs about learning and teaching, and the capacity of all students to achieve at high levels. District leaders with responsibility for a District system of support for master scheduling should begin by reviewing the District vision, mission, and framework for Teaching and Learning.

Align and Move to Action
The District should convene stakeholders in different elements of the system to act in concert. The District needs to build understanding throughout the educational system of the critical importance of effective master scheduling to the successful implementation of a system of pathways/academies. The District should take a lead in building consensus around a common vision of what an ideal high school master schedule for multiple pathways/ academies might entail, align strategies and resources to actualize this vision, and commit to supporting schools and one another in the execution of this vision.

Possible Changes in Structure, School Calendars, and/or Bell Schedules
This same group of stakeholders should consider any possible changes in high school program structures, school calendars, or bell schedules for the following school. For example, there may be interest in expanding pathways/academies from a 10-12 model to a 9-12 model. There may be interest in moving from a 6-period day schedule to a 4×4 hybrid schedule.   If there is interest in making a substantive change, the District should review a variety of processes for determining a bell schedule, etc., decide upon a process, and form a bell schedule committee (or other needed committee) of representative stakeholders.

Changes to structures and the use of time in schools should not be last minute, but researched and decided upon thoughtfully and with enough lead time to build consensus and ownership and allow for any needed professional development.              (See the ample Bell Schedule Resources in the Resources section of the Guide.   See also “Deciding on a Bell Schedule and/or Justifying/Communicating a Bell Schedule Change” in both the District System of Support, District Resources for Stage 1 section and in the Resources for All Stages section of the CCASN Master Schedule Guide.)

Note: In some Districts, there are uniform high school bell schedules. In others, each high school has autonomy over its own bell schedule and program structures; however, the district may set some parameters regarding the number of instructional minutes in a student’s day or aspects of bell schedules. In some large districts with very mobile student populations, for example, care must be taken when students transfer mid-term from a 4 x 4 schedule or trimester schedule to a traditional six-or seven-period day. 

Consider carefully who needs to be influenced if the District is to truly embrace a different approach to master scheduling, one that includes an open, inclusive, and transparent team approach to scheduling as well as a focus on developing master schedules that fully support pathway/academy interdisciplinary programs of study with “pure” cohorts of pathway students and pathway teaching teams who share common planning time.

  • Who will be the champions and thought leaders?
  • Who will lead the charge at each of the schools?
  • How will the District build the knowledge and skill of critical stakeholders?
  • What will be the role of the School Board?
  • What will be the role of the Teachers’ Union
  • How will the District help to shape the master schedule conversation and positively influence those who might resist changes in practice?
  • And what should be done to influence and address long standing assumptions about which students should be both college and career ready and scheduling practices and customs that run counter to the vision.

Ideate & Innovate
“Design Thinking is the confidence that everyone can be part of creating a more desirable future, and a process to take action when faced with a difficult challenge.”   – Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit

Use a structured approach a such as Design Thinking to generate and develop ideas about the District’s approach to master scheduling and master scheduling support. (See “Design Thinking resources” under “Tools and Strategies” in the “District System of Support” section of the Master Schedule Guide.  You can also download the Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit at http://www.designthinkingforeducators.com/design-thinking/)

Explore new approaches to master scheduling and the district system of support. Reimagine, rethink, reframe, and combine different perspectives. Prototype transformational approaches to the master schedule process and the use of time in school; think scalability.

Anticipate potential challenges to effective master scheduling. Work with the high school master schedule teams to collaboratively think through all of the typical master schedule constraints and find shared solutions. Anticipate, too, the opportunities and the ways in which teaching and learning and the use of time in schools might be different if well supported by resources, partnerships, and effective master scheduling.

Master Schedule Framework
The District should involve site administrators and representatives from site master schedule teams in helping to create and/or review and disseminate a master schedule framework that includes clear guidelines and a timeline for the development of high school master schedules.  The District should hold site administrators accountable for following the agreed-upon Master Schedule Guidelines and meeting master schedule deadlines, but should also allow for flexibility and innovation in the approaches taken to achieve a student and learning centered schedule.

Scanning the Environment: Assessing the Master Schedule Needs  
The District should develop and/or refine/update a Master Schedule Needs Assessment to be completed at each of the sites.  (See example of a “Master Schedule Needs Assessment” from Long Beach Unified that is based on the 2006 CASN Schedule Guide for Career Academies and Small Learning Communities; update this needs assessment to fit your local context.) The results of the site-specific needs assessment will help the District understand and act upon the kinds of master-schedule related technical assistance and professional development needed to build master scheduling knowledge and capacity at every site.

Dialogue with the Teacher’s Union
The district should collaborate with the teachers’ union and other stakeholders to explore scheduling options that accommodate the needs of Linked Learning pathways and college and career academies.  The traditional 6-period day schedule may be considered cost effective in the short term; however, it is very challenging – though not impossible — to offer pathway programs of study that engage students in academic core classes and a career-technical sequence of classes, and enable them to meet increasing graduation and college entrance requirements when students can only complete six classes each year. Pathways need the option for expanded/extended learning as well as classes with longer “blocks” of time to support project-based learning and other forms of “deeper learning.” In addition, pathways need to be scheduled in such a way that they can make flexible use of time to meet student learning needs and support student access to work-based learning opportunities.

Analysis of Data to Inform Staffing Allocations
The District should analyze enrollment data for each site – including a five-year enrollment pattern – and use student achievement data as well as input from site administration to make informed decisions regarding staffing needs and allocations.

Enable Flexibility: Explore funding opportunities and Partnerships/Dual Enrollment/Online Learning
The District should explore opportunities for funding and/or postsecondary, industry, and community partnerships that might help to increase flexibility in the master schedule. Options such as dual enrollment and access to online courses should be developed.

Standardize some aspects of the process
(If applicable or not already in place) The District should consider standardizing certain elements of the master schedule development process such as class sizes and staffing ratios.

Master Schedule Notebook
The District should develop guidelines, templates, and support materials for the Master Schedule Notebook that will be maintained by each of the secondary school sites along with a timeline for when certain documentation from the Master Schedule Notebook will be due to the District. The Master Schedule Notebook will serve as a repository for recording scheduling data, ideas, insights, decisions, etc. at every stage of the Master Schedule process. The Master Schedule Notebook documents the process and the learning that occurs along the way. (NOTE: Each site’s Master Schedule Notebook might be maintained in Google drive, on a District/school website, or in the cloud rather than in a traditional binder.) The format and platform for the Notebook should be the same throughout the District.

Updating Course Offerings/Developing New Courses
The District should examine the process that is in place to review and update course offerings and to support the development and approval of new courses. To the extent possible, the District should streamline the course approval process and provide online course development resources and exemplars of course descriptions to assist teachers and sites in enhancing the quality of standards-aligned curriculum.   (See “New Course Proposal- District” in the District System of Support section of the Master Schedule Guide, under Related Resources.) 

Director of Scheduling Position
Depending on the size of the District, the District should consider creating a district-level position that has the primary function of supporting master schedule development. The person in this position needs to have knowledge and understanding of master scheduling as well as the District’s practices, policies, and procedures.  The person in this position needs to be skilled at working with Adult Learners. (See examples of master scheduler job descriptions in the related resources for the District System of Support.)

The Director of Scheduling (or whoever assumes these functions as part of her/his scope of work) should work closely with the Human Resources Department on issues of credentialing, faculty staffing and staffing adjustments, and faculty transfers.   He/she should also work closely with the Business (or Financial Services) Department on fiscal controls, staffing allotments, and data based approaches to establishing site-specific projected enrollments.  He/she should work closely with the Curriculum and Instruction Department to support the development of new courses, course descriptions, course catalogs and master schedule strategies for expanding learning opportunities for students.


Reviewing and Updating the Curriculum
Depending on the size of the District, the District should organize a review and update of the high school curriculum and determine which courses will be offered in the coming/next school year.   (Sometimes this is a site function, especially as a particular pathway may be adding a course specific to the pathway theme that is not offered District wide, but meets the needs of that pathway and is a course common to pathways with similar industry themes. Often this is a function shared by both District and Site.)

Pathway Marketing Materials/Marketing Strategies
The District should work with sites to plan or review and enhance the District-wide marketing of pathways strategy and the pathway recruitment and selection process. (See District System of Support, Stage 2 Resources: “Choosing a Pathway/Academy Program of Study; Supporting Informed Decisions About Pathway Choice for Students and Parents)
While your actual Academy/Pathway Showcase might not occur until late October/ early November, you need to begin planning now.

In Porterville, California, the District holds a Pathway Showcase at the Galaxy Theatre (a local Cineplex for middle school students during the school day and for parents (in Spanish and English) at night; there are tours of the pathways, flyers, information on line, and a well advertised pathway application process. In Sacramento, California, the school district hosts an annual Linked Learning Recruitment Fair. The target audience includes students currently attending 6th to 9th grade and their parents. In Pasadena, recruitment for the Linked Learning/College and Career Pathways is a District-wide affair and Pasadena, too, hosts a Pathways Showcase and has a set of College and Career Pathway Videos to advertise each pathway/academy:

In Long Beach, California, the Long Beach Unified pathway Choices process begins in mid-November and is launched when each student receives a High School Choice Information Packet, followed by a district-wide High School CHOICE day on a Saturday so that parents can participate as well. There is a longer description of the Long Beach Choice application process in the “Pathway/Academy Program of Study Choice” resource.


Looking Backwards and Planning Forward: Internal and External Assessment of the Master Schedule
The District supports site-specific or District-wide assessment of the current master schedule. Among the questions to be addressed:

  • What is working well in the current master schedule?
  • What might be improved upon?
  • What worked well in the planning and development process?
  • What can be improved upon?
  • How well did the student information system software and its “builder”/”scheduler” program support the development of the master schedule?
  • What do master schedule teams need to know to better use the District’s student information system software and its “builder”/”scheduler” program?
  • To what extent did pathway students receive their 1st choice of pathways?
  • To what extent are pathway students scheduled as pure cohorts?
  • To what extent do the pathway teaching teams/communities of practice share common planning time?
  • How can the District best support schools in the master schedule development process?

Equity and Excellence Check: Looking at the Data
The District also provides data to each of the sites that helps them examine the degree to which each of the pathways/academies/SLCs reflects the diversity of the school and district as a whole. Data describes pathway student enrollment in terms of gender, measures of student achievement (test scores, grade point averages), percentage of economically disadvantaged students, percentage of students with disabilities, percentage of English Language learners.

Over time, the District might also include data that looks at the value=added or evidence of impact of each pathway/academy in terms of student attendance; credits earned; retention; graduation; growth as measured by improvements in grades, test scores, and other measures.  If, for example, the State has a high school exit exam, the District might provide information on the percentage of pathway students who successfully passed the exam. Or the percentage of students in each pathway/academy who successfully complete the sequence of courses required for college entrance. Or the percentage of students in each pathway/academy who graduate with dual enrollment credit or other college credit. Similarly, the District might maintain and provide data on the percentage of students in each pathway/academy who earn one or more industry certifications OR who successfully complete an industry internship experience.

All of this information informs changes or enhancements in pathway programs of study; these changes in turn inform changes in the master schedule.  If one pathway is doing an exceptional job of including special education students and raising student achievement for all by using a co-teaching approach, then other pathways might consider this. If one school has developed a strong dual enrollment program that is aligned with pathway programs of study, other schools can adopt similar strategies. If a school is successfully experimenting with blended learning that involves some courses with both face-to-face class time and online learning, others might learn from this.

Developing a Master Schedule Community of Practice
Face-to-face or virtual convening of Master Schedule Teams
If the District regularly convenes those involved in master scheduling throughout the District, site-based schedulers or master schedule teams will form a community of practice around master scheduling. (Note: Some of these gatherings can be virtual and take advantage of online meeting platforms. There may be regularly master scheduling conference calls during the height of “master schedule season.” Master schedule teams can share their best practices and collaboratively find solutions to challenges. More experienced schedulers can mentor master schedule teams that are new to the process. Everyone and every school can benefit.

Lesson from the field: One District provided a series of early dinners and dialogues around master scheduling practice. There was always new learning on some of the technical aspects of building a master schedule, but more importantly there was a deepening of a community of practice that resulted in noticeable improvement in the knowledge and skills of master schedule teams and well-built master schedules.


Preparation of Pathway and Course Selection Marketing and Registration Materials
The District and/or Sites finalize pathway and course selection marketing and registration materials for students and parents


Enrollment Projections/Staffing Allocations 
The District provides enrollment projections and initial staffing allotments to each site. The District and sites continue to dialogue about staffing needs and, to the extent possible, make needed adjustments.  (By February 1 at the latest)

Market, Market, Market
The District collaborates with high schools to host a series of pathway/academy parent information meetings. Eighth graders have opportunities to tour pathways.  Students receive information about the pathway application process and course selection process. Information is provided in a variety of media and repeated over time. The goal is that every student, with parent/guardian support, makes an informed pathway choice and chooses elective courses that will further her/his college and career readiness.
NOTE: Increasingly, Districts are hosting these much earlier in the academic year – in October or early November with a goal of completing pathway recruitment and selection processes by January.

NOTE: Increasingly schools are adjusting their master schedules mid-way to “catch up” struggling students. Rather then leaving students in a class they are failing, schools might reschedule students so they can make up a full year=’s credit in a double-blocked class OR complete the course standards they have not yet successfully mastered in a “skinny” block or be enrolled in an independent study class that provides on-line access to credit-bearing, college preparatory curriculum in order to make up a missing credit or a “D” grade. The District should provide support and flexibility for any school wishing to adjust the master schedule to meet student-learning needs.



January – February

Master Schedule Training/Professional Development
The District holds district-wide training for all site personnel involved in the master schedule development process. Sites are expected to send a Master Schedule team to at least one full day of training. More intensive training is provided for less experienced master schedule teams. In Los Angeles Unified, for example, the Master Schedule Institute involves 10 training sessions spaced out over a ten-week period.

Topics in the Los Angeles Master Schedule Institute include:

Session 1: Building a College Prepared and Career Ready Master Program
Session 2: Effective Staffing Guidelines and Procedures
Session 3: Data Based Programming for Common Core Instruction: Enrichment and
Intervention Support Programs
Session 4: Data Based Programming – Ensuring Equity and Access
Session 5: Middle School Master Program Practicum
Session 6: Making the Master Schedule Serve Student Needs
Session 7: Using Data Tools to Inform Placement and Support of Students
Session 8: Building and Utilizing Counseling Support Structures
Session 9: High School Master Program Practicum
Session 10: Presentation of the Middle and High School Master Schedule –
Through the
Lens of a Learning Centered Leader

In Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, Master Schedule trainings are provided through eSchoolPlus. Most training sessions are three hours long and offered at a variety of times over a one or two week period. In Spring 2014, topics included:
“Course Catalog Preparation This session includes a scheduling overview of courses, district and building course catalog, and next year student building assignments. Learn how to modify your building course catalog, set course priorities, grade restrictions, and set restrictions for courses within the Home Access Center.

Master Schedule Builder I
In this session, you will learn how to create meeting codes, resource groups, and room and staff allocations which will be used by the Master Schedule Builder.

Online Course Request and Course Changes
This session includes learning about entering student requests in eSchoolPLUS and HAC (Home Access Center), how to add and delete course requests in eSchoolPLUS and HAC, print course request information for students, mass locking requests, run Pre-Scheduler Reports (Simple Tally, Pre-Assignment Class List and more), and print Student Course Request letters. You will also learn how to schedule and lock students into specific courses and sections (for use after courses and sections are built by the campus master scheduler).

Course Request Analysis using Pre-Scheduling Reports
In this session, you will learn how to build your master schedule, room and staff tables, create and change master schedule sections, generate Pre-Scheduler Reports (Conflict Matrix, Teacher Availability, and Room Availability.)

In this session, you will learn how to use the whiteboard to build your master schedule considering student requests, room and teacher availability.

Master Schedule Builder II
This session includes instructions on how to run the course setup utility, course setup maintenance, run the master schedule builder program, and analyze the master schedule that was created. You will also learn how to run the student scheduler and analyze student schedules.

Scheduling Students & Post Scheduling Reports
In this session, you will learn to schedule students by running schedule loads, adding “See Counselor” fill for student schedules, run save/restore schedule files, and run post schedule reports.

Completing The Student Program Of Study And Course Selection Process; Sharing The Resulting Program Of Study Tallies And Course Tallies.
The District, in collaboration with the sites, should establish mid-February as a deadline for completing all student pathway/academy selections and course selections.
The District and/or each site should conduct student pathway selection and course registration and share the resulting programs of study tallies and course tallies with pathways and departments. Increasingly, this is done through an online registration and selection process. Increasingly, students can apply to pathways/academies throughout the District and often over-subscribed pathway/academy enrollees are determined on the basis of a lottery conducted at the District level. Typically, students indicate their first three choices for a pathway learning community. While student choice is important, there is also a process in place to balance equity and choice and to assure that each pathway reflects the diversity of the school/district as a whole. Advice from the field: This value placed on heterogeneous and diverse pathway enrollments will not happen without clear District expectations and policies.

The District should expect that each site implement a student and parent pathway choice and course elective choice verification process

Important To-Do: Tag/Flag/Add Identifier Codes for every Pathway/Academy Student and every Pathway/Academy Course prior to Building the Master Schedule
In order to support “pure” academy/pathway student cohorts and ready access to academy/pathway student data, pathway/academy students and pathway/academy courses are tagged/flagged/ provided indicators or pathway-specific course codes and student identifiers for their respective pathways. And (depending on your student information systems and protocols, the database needed for the Master Schedule development process is entered into the Student Information System.



This is when all the planning, attention to detail, and hard work in the early stages pays off. While the actual building of the master schedule will primarily be the work of site-based Master Schedule Teams, the District has much expertise to contribute to the process.

Support, Assist, Mentor, and Cheer
The district supports each high school and each master schedule team to develop a site-specific master schedule which includes “pure” cohorts of pathway students and common planning time for pathway teaching teams/communities of practice.

District-provided On Spot technical assistance is available as needed. School sites are able to make short-notice appointments with district master schedule experts for Master Schedule triage and technical assistance. The master schedule hotline or its email/text equivalent is abuzz. Savvy districts may host an online forum for master schedule queries and responses. The Director of Scheduling and/or another member of the District Master Schedule Support Team check in with each site weekly.

Tentative draft of the master schedule
Each site should submit a first draft of the Master Schedule by March 8th. (Approximate date)

(If necessary) Using information from the master schedule tentative drafts as well as student enrollment data, and other data, The District meets the layoff notification date for teachers by March 15th.

Identifying Staffing needs, including specific credentials needed
The District Personnel Office works with sites to identify the number of teachers needed and the specific credentials needed to fill any faculty vacancies.



Planning for Summer School
Typically, the District coordinates planning for summer school, including the provision of summer school registration forms, the recruitment of teachers, and the actual summer school registration for students.  Typically, summer school provides students opportunities to make up missing credits and to accelerate their course work.

  • Example from the field: In Fresno Unified School District, Fresno, California, students who earn a D or an F in a college preparatory courses are “assigned” to summer school; other students are welcome. As many as 10,000 students attend summer school in Fresno with the goal of having more students graduate on time and with the courses needed for college entrance.  Fresno is hoping to double the number of summer school students and embraces the view that summer school “isn’t only for students with low grades.”

District and Peer Review of the Master Schedule
April – Each site finalizes the master schedule and provides a copy to the District for review. Ideally, the District convenes master schedule teams for a peer review of site-specific master schedules.  This review mirrors “instructional rounds” – only the focus is on the quality of the master schedule rather than the quality of instruction. Each master schedule team receives feedback and recommendations from their peers and from members of the District Master Schedule Support Team.   Alternatively, the convening could be on line using “join me,” “go to meeting,” of a similar application.

The District checks each master schedule to be sure it reflects the established principles and priorities:

  • Each schedule is student-centered, equitable, and arrived at through an open process
  • To the extent possible, pathways/academies are balanced in terms of size and diversity
  • Pathway cohorts are purely scheduled
  • Pathway teachers share common planning time (and, to the extent possible, each pathway teacher is a member of a single pathway teaching team.)
  • Key student needs have been met (e.g., graduation requirements; college entrance requirements.
  • Teacher and room assignments are fair and feasible.
  • All potential conflicts have been considered and to the degree possible eliminated.

Distribution of Tentative Schedules to Students and Teachers
Late May- Tentative schedules are distributed to students and teachers.




Clean up, fine-tune, adjust, and readjust. Conduct initial internal assessments. Celebrate the hard work.

The District serves as a clearinghouse to capture the master schedule learning.

The District thanks site administrators and master schedule teams for their hard work on the master schedule.  (Think fancy certificates for each member of the high school master schedule teams.)


The District supports sites in adjusting master schedules for any beginning of the school year changes in enrollment, staffing and/or funding that impacts class size or specific course offerings.

The District assures that all summer school grades are entered into official student records upon course completion.

The District assures that final class schedules are provided to students and teachers one to two weeks prior to the start of the school year. (These reflect summer school credits/ grades)

The District assures that there is a system in place for registering and scheduling newly arrived students.

NOTE: For new students who enter after the formal pathway selection and registration process, some Districts have prepared videos that orient students to their Academies/Pathways and help them make informed choices of a pathway.

Advice from the field: Several administrators talked about the need for the District to encourage each of the high schools to reserve some slots in each of their academies/pathways for new students so that one under-subscribed academy/pathway does not suddenly enroll all the new students and so that new students, too, have an opportunity for pathway choice based on their interests and career aspirations.

The District assures that there is a system in place for adjusting student schedules as needed.

Late August/early September or even Late July (depending on your school calendar)

Authentic Assessment of the Master Schedule
Drum roll, please. It’s authentic assessment time. Schools open to eager students and inspired teachers. Every student and every teacher has a class schedule. The master schedule faces the performance challenge of working — and working well — for students and student learning.

  • Are academy/pathway cohorts “purely” scheduled?
  • Do pathway teachers share common planning time?
  • Does each student have access to challenging classes?
  • Does each pathway reflect the diversity of the school as a whole?
  • Are the lines outside the counselor offices of students requesting a schedule change small or non-existent?

The District Master Schedule Support Team should be out in the field, checking in with each high school, helping to solve any scheduling glitches, learning what is working and what still needs to improve in each master schedule, responding to any surge in student enrollments, and showing appreciation.


The District supports sites in making any scheduling or staffing adjustments to reflect changes in enrollment or unanticipated faculty changes. The District supports and monitors the balancing of class sizes.


The District collaborates with sites to assess the master schedule development process, the effectiveness of the master schedule itself, and the effectiveness of District collaboration and support.

Reentering the Cycle

  • Director of Master Scheduling reforms the District Master Schedule Support Team, making changes as needed.
  • The District Master Schedule Support Team reconvenes stakeholders to review the District vision, mission, and profile of the Graduate as well as the District Framework for Teaching and Learning.
  • Together with representatives from high school Master Schedule Teams, the District Master Schedule Support Team reviews and analyzes data (findings from the school master schedule teams and data on the effectiveness of each master schedule) as well as the assessment of the effectiveness of District support for the master schedule process.
  • Together with site administrators and representatives from the high school Master Schedule Teams, the District Master Schedule Support Team reviews the District Master Schedule guiding principles and recommits to or reformulates them.
  • The District Master Schedule Support Team incorporates analyses of the previous year and begins to map out tasks for the new year
  • The District Master Schedule Support Team prepares a Master Schedule Report for the Superintendent, Cabinet, and/or School Board.

The master schedule development support process begins anew.

Four Excel-based tools are provided within this section (they are also included in Stage 1 of this guide). Instructions are provided for two of these tools.

All of these resources can be downloaded below or from the sidebar, Resources for this Stage, on the right.

Bell schedule Tool, with instructions
The Bell Schedule tool automates  counting of the number of instructional minutes and days in the school year. It allows you to be as creative as you want and experiment with multiple bell schedules until you find the perfect one.
Download tool (Excel)
Download instructions (PowerPoint)

14-month Calendar Tool, with instructions
This tool produces a 14-month calendar through the 2050-51 school year with minimum initial input. It automatically keeps count of students days and designated holidays. It makes easy work of the development of a school year and is useful for negotiations.
Download tool (Excel)
Download instructions (PowerPoint)

Faciliies Load Calculator Tool
This tool counts the capacity based on your input of the number of rooms, their capacity, and the number of student periods and teacher periods.
Facilities Load Calculator Tool (Excel)

Staffing Allocation Calculator
This tool helps calculate the number of staff needed to accommodate the number of students enrolled and the bell schedule utilized.
Staffing Allocation Calculator (Excel)

The District-level Master Schedule District Support Notebook serves as a repository for recording master schedule support notes, data, calculations, ideas, insights, decisions, artifacts, meeting and work session summaries, communication with stakeholders, a record of support provided (professional development, technical assistance, resources, and coaching), and other relevant information at every stage of support for the master schedule development process.

The Notebook provides an important record of the Master Schedule District Support Team’s work; documents essential aspects of master schedule support and leadership; includes the results (the resulting master schedule/s); and reflections on the learning that occurs along the way. The Notebook informs the cycle of continuous master schedule and master schedule support improvement and provides a record and a journey map for future Master Schedule District Support Teams.

The Master Schedule District Support Notebook/Log/Journal/Portfolio may be maintained in a binder, as a set of folders, as a set of files on a platform such as Google Drive, or elsewhere in the cloud.

Recommendations for Master Schedule District Support Notebook content as well as checklists, templates, prompts, and forms are provided for each stage of the master schedule development process.

Stage 1

Contents Cover Sheet
This includes a checklist for recommended Contents for Stage 1 of the Master Schedule Notebook. This also serves as a cover sheet for the Stage 1 Section of the Master Schedule Notebook.

Master Schedule Team
This is a template for recording your Master Schedule Team membership and roles and responsibilities.

Theory of Action
Defines a Theory of Action and why it is important; provides examples and a template.

Record MS PD TA Coaching

Reflection on Stage 1
Description of Reflection Cycles, Sample Reflection Questions, Reflection Prompt for Stage 1.

Stage 2

Contents Cover Sheet
This includes a checklist for recommended Contents for Stage 2 of the Master Schedule Notebook. This also serves as a cover sheet for the Stage 2 Section of the Master Schedule Notebook.

Record Master Schedule PD TA Coaching

Reflection on Stage 2
Description of Cycles of Reflection, Sample Reflection Questions, and Stage 2 Team Reflection Prompt.

Stage 3

Contents Cover Sheet
This includes a checklist for recommended Contents for Stage 3 of the Master Schedule Notebook. This also serves as a cover sheet for the Stage 3 Section of the Master Schedule Notebook.

Record Master Schedule PD TA Coaching

Reflection on Stage
Description of Cycles of Reflection, Sample Reflection Questions, and Stage 3 Team Reflection Prompt.

Stage 4

Contents Cover Sheet
This includes a checklist for recommended Contents for Stage 4 of the Master Schedule Notebook. This also serves as a cover sheet for the Stage 4 Section of the Master Schedule Notebook.

Record Master Schedule PD TA Coaching

Reflection on Stage 4
Description of Cycles of Reflection, Sample Reflection Questions, and Stage 4 Team Reflection Prompt.

Stage 5

Contents Cover Sheet
This includes a checklist for recommended Contents for Stage 4 of the Master Schedule Notebook. This also serves as a cover sheet for the Stage 4 Section of the Master Schedule Notebook.

Theory of Action
Defines a Theory of Action and why it is important; provides examples and a template.

Record Master Schedule PD TA Coaching

Reflection on Stage 5
Description of Cycles of Reflection, Sample Reflection Questions, and Stage 5 Team Reflection Prompt.

Final Master Schedule Team Reflection
A final Master Schedule Support Team Reflection on the overall master schedule process and product. What? So What? Now What?


All Resources in the Master Schedule Guide

District System of Support (PowerPoint)



College and Career Academies/Linked Learning Pathways Communications and Marketing Plan



District Resources for Stage 1

Introduction to Bell Schedules

Comparison of School Day and Use of Time in Pathways, Academies, and Schools

ConnectEd Framework for Developing Linked Learning Pathways

Course Codes, Course Titles, and Course Descriptions

Master Schedule Cycle Timeline

District Support for Development of Master Schedule Building Knowledge and Skills

Master Schedule Needs Assessment

Sample District Job Descriptions for Master Scheduler, Registrar, and Director of Guidance Positions

Master Schedule Plan, Timelines, and Responsibilities

Master Schedule Principles, Philosophy, Milestones, and Metrics

New Course Proposals

District Parameters/Guidelines for Developing Calendar Options

Planning the Master Schedule with an Equity Lens

ROP Classes/Centers, CTE, and Schedules

Questions to Answer for Beginning Stage 1

Staffing Allocations (pdf)

State and District Policies that Impact the Master or Bell Schedule

Updating Course Information and Course Catalog

District Resources for Stage 2

District Support for Development of Master Schedule Building Knowledge and Skills

New Course Proposals

Pathway/Academy Choice: Choosing a Program of Study

Staff Allocations (pdf)

Student Information System Software and Web-based Programs

District Stages for Stage 3

District Support for Development of Master Schedule Building Knowledge and Skills

ROP Classes/Centers, CTE, and Schedules

District Resources for Stage 4

Comparison of School Day and Use of Time in Pathways, Academies, and Schools

Master Schedule and A-G Analysis

Planning the Master Schedule with an Equity Lens

Student Information System Software and Web-based Programs


District Resources for Stage 5

Evaluation in the Master Schedule Context

External Assessment of the Master Schedule – District

Internal Assessment of the Master Schedule – District

Other Related District Resources

High School Recommendations from a County of Education

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