The School Board voted Tuesday night to approve a new homework policy, which has been 14 months in creation and was subject to a number of last-minute changes.
The policy calls for specific amounts of time each night based on grades and discourages weekend and holiday assignments. Teachers will coordinate assignments so that students don't get bogged down in multiple assignments from a number of teachers.
In a lengthy discussion, board members questioned the reason behind the new policy and the need for it in the first place.
Board Member Jamie Hintzke voted against adopting the guidelines and said the bulk of homework problems are from "a handful of teachers" that could likely be resolved by parent meetings. She added the new policy could be read as micromanagement of teachers.
"I feel this thing is a little half-baked," Hintzke said, opposing the board's plan to "test drive" the new procedures to get feedback over the coming school year.
W. Ron Sutton, who was on the student achievement advisory committee that brought up the idea that the homework policy should be re-examined, also questioned the new policy. Sutton suggested that all homework assignments should have a goal and an estimated completion time and said the biggest problem is lack of communication.
Trevor Knaggs, president of the Association of Pleasanton Teachers, said the new policy is "an impressive document" that spells out the responsibilities for students, teachers and parents.
"There will be some time to assimilate this," he said. "Most of the teachers I've talked to have already started implementing this."
Trustee Joan Laursen questioned the length of time allotted for students to make up work after time away from school.
While Board President Valerie Arkin agreed with Sutton that goals and completion times should be part of the policy, she ultimately supported the plan.
Board members Jeff Bowser and Chris Grant both said the policy should be a work in progress.
"Our policies need to be more dynamic," Bowser said. "We don't just write them and put them on the side."
Grant said the policy is meant to be a guideline for the average student.
"No doubt we will have to monitor and modify this policy," he said.
The policy passed on a 4 to 1 vote, with Hinkzke the sole opponent. Teachers, parents and students will test it during the next year, with a report on how well it worked expected by spring 2012.