BVH enacts block schedule for 2022-2023 school year

Biology+Accelerated+teacher+Joseph+Szakovits+places+his+vote+for+the+passage+of+block+schedule.+Voting+was+open+throughout+the+day+at+the+polling+station+in+the+staff+lounge+and+through+an+online+poll.

Photo provided by Jennifer Ekstein

Biology Accelerated teacher Joseph Szakovits places his vote for the passage of block schedule. Voting was open throughout the day at the polling station in the staff lounge and through an online poll.

Brandon Giles, Staff Artist

On Feb. 11 Bonita Vista High (BVH) teachers and counselors decided that BVH will transition from the traditional school schedule to block schedule for the 2022-2023 school year. The vote passed 68-38 and was long anticipated due to conflicting beliefs about the positive and negative effects of implementing a block schedule.

BVH’s current schedule consists of students attending six classes daily throughout the school year. The proposed block schedule means that students attend three classes a day with class time extended to 120 minutes.

“There’s less transitions between you guys [the students]. That gives us [teachers] more time to review your work,” Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC) representative and math teacher Christina Ada said. “If we give a test on Wednesday, we’ve got two days to get it back to you instead of just one [and] you’re in class with your teachers a little bit longer.”

Amongst faculty, talk of a block schedule has circulated around BVH for five years. According to BVH Principal Roman Del Rosario, Ed.D., the decision of BVH transitioning to a block schedule had been brought up periodically by teachers.

“Periodically, teachers will share how they feel block schedule is a better alternative [to traditional scheduling]. As more and more teachers share that perspective I have been able to talk to FAC about it,” Del Rosario said. 

The transition to a block schedule starts with individual departments pushing a ballot vote. Teachers had to discuss the pros and cons with their associated departments. If the majority of departments were in favor, then the school moves forward with a vote. If the majority of staff claimed they did not want a block schedule, the vote would not move forward. From then, individual counselors and teachers must vote.

“We have an election where every certificated personnel, which is teachers and counselors, are able to vote on the schedule. It requires [a] 60 percent [supermajority] for a schedule to be implemented,” Del Rosario said.

Teachers and counselors placed their vote on Feb. 11. The voting booth was located in room 205—the staff lounge. Teachers or counselors unable to vote in-person had the opportunity to vote online and had to be verified BVH personnel to vote. According to Ada, a Sweetwater Education Association representative and one FAC representative will be present to count the ballots to make sure that there are no violations in the teacher contract. 

“Every certificated staff member, whether a teacher or a counselor, will have the opportunity to select between the current schedule with the change [in] start time to 8:30 a.m. [or] implementation of a block schedule,” Del Rosario said.

Although this schedule change impacts the whole BVH community, students were not allowed to vote directly. According to a survey conducted by the Crusader of the 883 responses, over 50 percent of students disagreed with having a block schedule to some extent.

“I surveyed approximately 130 students in my class [about block schedule] and 90 percent said ‘no’,” Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Biology Higher Level 2 teacher Michelle Mardahl, Ph.D., said. “I think we should listen to student’s preferences.”

Mardahl believes seeing students everyday helps reinforce lessons and reminds students of important due dates. She also believes that a block schedule would make it difficult for students who miss a day of school to catch up on previous material. On the other hand, teachers like Ada who have had a block schedule in their career noticed a better workflow. 

I surveyed approximately 130 students in my class [about block schedule] and 90 percent said ‘no.’”

— Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Biology Higher Level 2 teacher Michelle Mardahl, Ph.D.

“I’m looking forward to a block schedule after teaching online learning. [With] less transitions you can get a fuller lesson done. Instead of the bell ringing and the teacher saying ‘We’ll finish that tomorrow,’ we’ll have time to close and wrap up lessons,” Ada said. 

Ada believes that teachers have the students’ best interests at heart. According to Ada, if teachers did not feel block schedule is good for the quality of learning in the classroom, the vote would not have happened.

“I think [students will] have a better experience once everybody gets used to it,” Ada said.

Furthermore, Ada explains that teachers have been offered extra professional development and training if they feel unprepared to teach 120 minute classes. Training also helps teachers restructure their class and have comfortable classroom management. Mardahl mentions student adjustment to this schedule change may vary per student as some individuals have different attention spans and require different needs.

“Schools are democratic, and I’m going to respect the decision made by the staff,” Del Rosario said. “I support the implementation of the block schedule, but even more, I support the will of the democratic process that we have here for selection.”