Two staff meetings were carried out on Wednesday Nov. 15 to discuss the possibility of implementing a new schedule for the 2018-2019 school year. There were two options for the unofficial vote provided by the Faculty Advisory Council (FAC) schedule A, the option picked by the staff, states that 10 minutes will be added to every school day leading to a minimum day scheduled most Fridays in order to give teachers more time to have meetings. Schedule B eliminated the seventh period and changed the school start time from 7:10 to 7:45 and the end time to 3:00. The official vote is being scheduled to take place in the month of December.
According to the district’s regulations, a high school must have 65,800 minutes a year in order to be accredited. In addition to this, the Sweetwater Education Association (SEA) contract with teachers states that a teacher’s workday must be at the most seven hours and 15 minutes. The FAC had to take both of these regulations into account when creating the new schedules.
“The meeting was not to decide whether we were changing the schedule, but to decide which things we might change,” International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement coordinator Jared Phelps said. “The more official vote in December will be ‘Okay, do you want this new thing, or do you want to leave everything alone and not make any changes to our schedule?’”
The vote that took place was composed of approximately 80 teachers, 55 percent of whom voted for Schedule A. Principal Roman Del Rosario, Ed.D. stated that the official vote will occur before second semester to determine whether or not the schedule will change.
“The length of class periods may be modified by the principal to allow for other instructional programs after consulting with the FAC and the change is approved by a 60 percent site unit member vote,” The SEA contract states.
Del Rosario stated that he is hopeful that the 60 percent needed to change the schedule will be reached because it provides more teacher collaboration.
“The trouble is, there’s so little time for teachers to be able to meet about that, the only time we have IB meetings is at lunch every once and in a while,” Phelps said. “That means that the teachers have to tear themselves away from their students and their work and together we get maybe thirty minutes to hurriedly talk about all the things that we need to talk about.”
According to Phelps, the main reason for changing the schedule was to create more communication between teachers in the same department or across departments. With the implementation of schedule A, there would be approximately 100 minutes of collaboration time for teachers every Friday.
“I agree with the staff 100 percent, that the current schedule does not allow for enough collaboration. We will take off when we work together as a team and that is impossible if we don’t have time as a team,” Del Rosario said.
However, more collaboration will also change the way in which teachers carry out their curriculums and this may create conflict according to Del Rosario.
“The research is irrefutable, there is a better outcome for students when teachers work together. However, what educators understand is that collaboration does not always make things easier, at times it makes them more challenging,” Del Rosario said. “Even if you and I teach the same subject, we might have very different opinions on what is the best way for students to learn. I don’t think it will not be easy, but I am committed to supporting the staff in every way I can.”
If the schedule is passed, it would have effects in the community as BVH would have a similar schedule to that of Bonita Vista Middle School. Additionally, parents would have to pick up their children 10 minutes later Monday through Thursday.
“I heard from parents about that some days we start earlier and some days we start later and that the middle school has different times than the high school,” Del Rosario said. “We are always interested in hearing from parents but as of now if the selection is voted on by 60 percent or more, the major change for parents would be students leaving 10 mins later which is not a huge change.”
According to Del Rosario, despite the fact that there might be mixed reactions from the public, the administration is prepared to make small changes to create a smooth transition.
“Because the vote is in December, we have six months [before the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year] to talk to the community and get additional input in regards to the schedule,” Del Rosario said. “If we explain the change then the community will support us, teachers don’t necessarily want to stay ten minutes later either but they know how valuable this collaboration time is.”
Additionally, according to the SEA contract, the schedule will not be permanently changed. If passed, the schedule will be implemented for three years and there will be a yearly vote on what changes to make. On May 15 of the third year, there will be a final vote on whether to keep the schedule or not.
“I started the meeting by telling the staff ‘Isn’t democracy great?’ The reason I said that is that I did know this was an issue they cared about and it impacted their lives,” Del Rosario said. “I really thought it was important to have a deliberate process in discussing, that is how democracy works and it’s important to me that this process is democratic.”
As of November 21, Kaile Betts, Christina Ada and Marina Dillingham were contacted but did not comment.