This is a really interesting thread, reading about everyone's different experiences. Besides the "Flap class" science periods I described, here's some more scheduling fun:
I went to high school in Illinois, in the Chicago suburbs in a not-rich but not-poor school. State standards may have mandated the 60 minute science class, I'm not sure.
State standards did mandate that we take PE every day, for a full 40 minutes, for all 4 years, unless you were in a sport on season. That contributed to our scheduling woes, although I'm glad we were forced to be active.
With all the afterschool extracurriculars, not only did I rarely have a good lunch, I almost never got a real dinner, either.
All afterschool activities began 20 minutes after the last period ended, and often lasted to 7 or 8pm. So either someone with a car had to make a lightning fast run to McDonalds (or other fast food), often buying for several friends, or you ate dinner out of the vending machines--which we had several of, although they weren't turned on during the school day. Animal crackers and Pepsi were my preferred dinner option, although I would go for McNuggets if I could scrape together enough spare change.
And it wasn't just us drama nerds, either. All the sports were on the same schedule, as well as activities like Forensics and model UN.
The big debate when I was in school, which was still raging when I was student teaching, was early morning sports practices. Often baseball and soccer (because it was warm in the mornings) players would have practice from 6:30-7:30am, then they'd shower and show up in class half dead and proceed to sleep through the rest of their day. Classroom teachers were (understandably) irate, but the coaches felt like they didn't have enough time to practice in the evenings without keeping kids at school until 9pm, which would be too late for them to do any homework or studying.
While I do agree that forcing kids to skip lunch is a terrible idea, I think there are only so many ways to structure the basic 7/8 hour school day to make sure kids are really getting all the information they need. Without major overhaul of the public school system (which it needs, but which is expensive and therefore unlikely for political reasons) I can't say I fault districts for trying to use their time creatively. If, say, a student has English class at noon and the teacher understands the situation and is willing to allow kids to eat a sandwich while she reads aloud, or while they're writing in their journals or whatever, I'm not sure it's the end of the world.