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School Scheduling Tools

Three Steps to a Strategic Schedule

Making school schedules is something district and school leaders must do every year — but during COVID-19, that job has just gotten harder. We've created a set of COVID Comeback Models that include possible student groups, schedules, staff roles and more for district and school leaders planning for a safe shift to hybrid models. To explore the models and learn more about how to manage design in a continuously changing context, click below.


A school’s master schedule defines which teachers meet with which students, for how long, and about what topics. The priorities it represents, whether explicit or implicit, are a critical aspect of shaping how learning takes place in the school. We recommend school teams to take these three steps with accompanying tools to make the most of their time and build a strategic schedule. To learn more about the school scheduling process, read Three Steps to a Strategic Schedule.  

Reflect and Set Priorities 

School teams can begin the process with our new Strategic Scheduling Checklist (PDF) to reflect on what their schedule should accomplish and use those priorities to inform the types of changes they could make. 

Explore Schedule Options, Trade-offs, and Staffing Implications 

There are myriad tactical schedule solutions that school teams can use to meet their priorities. This step is about considering trade-offs, understanding staffing implications, and selecting options that are the best fit. School teams can use our Staffing Tool (Excel) to determine the total number and types of teachers needed for various options based on the number of periods, course offerings, and projected enrollment.

Design the Schedule 

School teams can experiment with putting the pieces together with either the the Elementary or Secondary School Scheduling Template (Excel)  on their way to creating a bell schedule, master schedule, teacher assignments, and student assignments that meet school priorities with the available resources. After creating a schedule, school teams can visit the Post-Scheduling Review (PDF) to review or iterate on the new schedule. 

Need help using these tools? Contact us.


These tools were created by ERS, as a result from a partnership with Mike Rettig, founder of School Scheduling Associates. Materials were further refined in partnership with Public Impact through our collaborative work with Charlotte-Mecklenburg SchoolsMetropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Boston Public Schools, and Oakland Unified School District 

 Want to learn more about school design?

Our extensive library of school design resources includes:

  • Publications
  • Videos
  • Interactive online tools
School Scheduling Tools
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