Debate continues over block scheduling | SierraSun.com
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Debate continues over block scheduling

SHANNON DARLING, Sun News Service

As the deadline for school board approval of block scheduling gets closer, staff and faculty are questioning their original approval of the change.

“This is like a marriage, we are going to get stuck with it for a long time and when it comes down to it they are getting cold feet,” said student school board member, Ashley Whaley, after hearing comments during last Thursday’s special meeting of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Under the block scheduling system, North Tahoe High School students will take four classes a day each lasting 90 minutes.

The alternative scheduling method resembles that of college classes. Instead of taking a class for a whole school year, the students will take four classes for only the fall semester and continue with a different set of classes for the spring semester. This alternative allows students to take eight classes a year instead of the current six.

In light of the fact that teachers may change their minds from the first 88 percent approval, school board members asked for the teachers to be polled again.

However, students have already showed their support of block scheduling. A petition has been circulating at the high school and close to 200 students supporting a block schedule have signed it.

Junior Joe Stinson and freshman Janae Leininger both said they are in favor of the switch.

“All the kids want it, at least everyone I talked to,” said Stinson. “It will enable us to get more

classes.”

The school board will take into consideration the results of the staff poll and student petition when it votes on implementing block scheduling at its June 8 meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the school district office in Truckee.

Concerns over teacher preparedness, band, staff and scheduling have surfaced since teachers originally approved block scheduling by an 88 percent majority.

“Since the vote some conditions have changed,” said North Tahoe High School teacher Peggy Heidelberger-Smith.

Heidelberger-Smith mentioned administrative and office changes, as well as teacher training. The school secretary, Sharon Hamerly, retired this school year and there will be a new registrar.

“I’m not against block scheduling, I just need a year,” Heidelberger-Smith said.

However, Fields did add that the current momentum of block scheduling is positive and it could add some advantages.

“It always works better when there is momentum,” said Fields, who added he would support staff no matter what it decided.

The school board listened to arguments for and against block scheduling for close to two hours at the meeting.

After listening to students, parents and teachers, the board directed staff at the high school to come up with a list of pros and cons about block scheduling.

“I am in favor of implementing this, but I want to see a commitment,” said board member Cindy Gustafson.

Board member Karen Van Epps also wanted to know exactly how the school was going to implement the schedule and see an example of a master course schedule.

“I’ve received over 42 phone calls on this. The majority are in favor,” said Van Epps.

Fields assured parents that all the issues will be addressed and scheduling can be worked out.

The concern with teachers is one issue that would require teacher training, said Fields.

Staff preparation is a must in order to capture the attention of students for 90 minutes.

“It’s their summer and their efforts that would make this work,” said board member Patricia Gibbons-Johnson.


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