Q&A with Bressler

Principal Phil Bressler answers students' questions about PHS's new attendance policy and finals exemption policy.

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Q&A with Bressler

Story by The Booster Redux Staff, Reporter

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The Booster Redux (TBR): What urged you to make the Finals Exemptions change?

Phil Bressler (PB): We looked at attendance in the fall, and it was a bit of an issue. We went to our building leadership team and our department chairs and decided that [finals exemptions] is the one thing that has worked in the past to drive attendance. We worked with the old policy that formerly existed and with what other people are doing and tweaked it to set a fairly high standard for kids. We didn’t want it to be so that just showing up like normal would give you an exempt. We wanted to make it class specific.

TBR: How did you make the decision to update the policy?

PB: Not everyone agreed. I was one of the most reluctant people, but when you ask people what they want to do and there is a strong majority, nearly unanimous, as a leader, you have to say then that’s what we’re gonna try. So we crafted some ideas, talked about them at length and ran them through multiple groups. This whole thing is really a pilot [program]. We’re going to see how it works, and if it works well then we will certainly look to clear it for the handbook for the first semester of next year. If we need to tweak it, we’ll do that. It may fall on its face completely. Early returns are that it’s pretty good.

If we need to tweak it, we’ll do that. It may fall on its face completely. Early returns are that it’s pretty good.”

— Phil Bressler

TBR: Do have any plans to change the policy? Are you willing to scrap the policy if it doesn’t work out?

PB: Will we scrap it down the line? A lot of people will make that decision. Very little of what we do is my decision. We want our staff and students to have input on decisions. There are still a lot of what-ifs. We don’t know what happens after the fourth tardy. What will happen to kids behavior when they have that tardy? We don’t know yet. These are things that we will just have to keep assessing. Often you try something and end up tweaking it to make it a little better. Sometimes we get an idea that’s just ludicrous but somewhere in that crazy idea is a truth that we can apply later on.

TBR: Would you like to add anything?

PB: I’d really just like to add that the goal wasn’t really to say that final exams aren’t important but that showing up to class everyday is more essential to school than a ten percent of your grade exam.

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