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PUSD High School 7th period on the chopping block?

Original post made by Dark Corners of Town, Country Fair, on Jan 31, 2010

In the PUSD Jan 26th Budget Challenges 2010-11 update, a union negotiable item is:
"Suspend high school collaboration period and reduce seventh period day options ($448K)"
Given the large number of students who use a 7th period to take AP courses, arts electives, and UC/CSU required courses, removing 7th period courses could be devastating to educational excellence at the high school level.

Attend the Feb 2 PUSD Budget Workshop 7-9 pm at AVHS multi-purpose room and let your voice be heard. Questions concerning the budget may be emailed to budgetinfo@pleasanton.k12.ca.us.

Also, has anyone heard that the AVHS class scheduling for next year through ZANGLE is only allowing 6 periods? Does this mean that PUSD has already decided to cut high school 7th period? What was the comment Principal Coupe made at the parent scheduling meeting last week about this being tied to the failure of Measure G to pass? Can anyone confirm any of this?

Comments (42)

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Posted by Rat Turd
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Just more scare tactics. Give us our raises. We need to lower taxes to get business and wealthy to stay in the state otherwise, game, set, match.


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Posted by Amador Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Perhaps cutting one period from the high school day is only going to happen at Foothill which already has one more class period available for students than Amador does.
Amador has the following class periods: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Foothill has A period, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and B period.
So students at Foothill have a total of 8 class periods, whereas Amador students have had 7.

Perhaps it's not just budget cuts talk, but a response to requests for parity between the high schools.



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Posted by That's right
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 31, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Yes, Amador students will only be allowed to sign up for six periods. The official story is apparently that students will be allowed to add a seventh pediod in the spring if it is determined the cuts are not needed. As Dark Corners points out this is a serious problem for the students involved in arts, music, and AP courses. Seems to me that this is further evidence that the district is unwilling to make cuts that don't hurt the students. Some might call it extortion.


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Posted by Common sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Dark Corners of Town:

It is true, students at AVHS will only be allowed to sign up for 6 periods.

It looks like this administration is getting ready to make deep cuts that affect the students. There are other options like freezing step and column or reducing the school year by 5 days, but instead we hear of cuts that affect the students.




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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 31, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Here's what I found on eConnect for Amador:

"Students will register for their course choices for 2010-11 school year using the new Zangle Student Connect beginning on February 1 and going through midnight on February 11. Counselors are conducting class presentations and parent informational sessions. The log in/password system is noted below. If you do not have access to a computer or need assistance with your course selections, counselors will be available for support in the library computer lab during lunch and after school February 1 - 11.

Please note that students may only sign up for 6 classes at this time. We will provide information in the spring about the option to select a 7 period day. If your student signs up for more than 6 classes, we will remove extra choices at our discretion."

Foothill is not yet doing registration on Zangle. There is not as much information on eConnect about the process they are using, so I don't know if they are also planning for the possibility of reduced opportunities.


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Posted by Amador Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:23 pm

So, is the request to schedule for only 6 classes at Amador a Zangle restriction or a budget/teacher contract restriction? Seems to me they are limiting our students, especially next year's seniors, in order to automate the scheduling process. Sad.


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Posted by Angered
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:54 pm

This is " you don't get the classes, unless we get our money " BLACKMAIL. Holding us hostage will NEVER work with me. ...afraid they've played the hand wrong !. Whether it's the district *@# OR teacher's union contract *@#.....doesn't matter...same tactics "make it visible...hurt the kids" ! Work together....or all go down together !!! For sure NO tax !!!!


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Where do you think $8 million in cuts is going to come from- the teachers and administration should pay for all of it? Even with a freeze in S&C, a pay cut with reduced days- it still will not come close to covering the total cuts from the State. The district has been trying to communicate this for months now!

We didnt hear this level of postrage when elementary class sizes were on the list to be cut. Its fine for elementary to take the cuts, but not high school? How would any of the cuts not hurt students?

It seems like the blackmail, extortion, and scare tactics are coming from the community and posters like DCOT as they work daily to discredit teachers in order to get them to pay for the education for the children of this community.


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 31, 2010 at 10:32 pm

To 'Really?' - The $8M budget gap can be closed without hurting kids. PUSD wants you to think otherwise. Here is what I posted on another thread (Web Link):
PUSD has distributed an updated budget gap analysis showing a need to reduce expenditures by $8M. PUSD's proposed reductions contain significant impact to our children and the quality of education they receive.
Here is a proposal that solves the $8M gap with no impact to the children.
- Suspension of Step and Column increases ($1.6M)
- Reduction of five instructional days @ $450K each ($2.25M)
- Modify service provider in warehouse/graphics ($250K)
- 4% across the board salary reduction for all employees ($3.6M)
- Summer school proposed changes ($200K)
- Eliminate one staff development day ($450K)
Total expense reduction of $8.35M, without touching a single kid-facing service or program. Budget deficit solved.
A proposal that saves teacher jobs, possibly adds up to five teacher jobs, preserves all counselors, aides, specialists, librarians, administration, custodians, music teachers, maintains current CSR levels and more. A proposal that Puts Kids First. A proposal that keeps the high quality of PUSD education!

Do you have a different proposal you would like to suggest?






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Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 31, 2010 at 11:15 pm

DCOT -
Good start, however freezing step and column and reducing school days hits some of the teachers twice. In step and column not everyone gets a step every year, so some would not be affected by a freeze.

But let's talk days of instruction and staff development days. I believe it was mentioned at one of the board meetings that 5 days equaled about an average of a 4% reduction. If instructional days are reduced - it is a whole shut down. So no one works and no one goes to school. It is the fairest option and affects everyone - management to admins. I think it would be helpful to have 3 days reduced this year and 10 days with a combo of staff development and instructional days for next year. Remember, daily salaries are about $450K a day and reducing days is a negotiable item. Those darn unions.

Give it another try!


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 7:57 am

BLACKMAIL pure and simple. This time it is not going to work. This is the standard procedure for all unions. Until we get salary and even more pension cuts and reform nothing will happen. Administrators have to take the lead followed by the teachers and the rest. O'Bama's budget is a joke. The whole nation is going down the tube.


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Posted by Amador Mom
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 8:34 am

Wait - Amador students have 7 potential periods and Foothill has 8 (this year)? How did this happen?

If they are going to reduce each school by one period they need to take a look at making the opportunities equal at both high schools first, don't you think?

Also, this reduction in the high schools effect as many students as the cuts in the elementary schools - # of high school students almost equal the # of elementary school students, doesn't it?


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Posted by Amador Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 8:48 am

Why should we pay for kids to take 7 periods anyways? The kids that do it are getting more credits than the rest, 6 should be the maximum allowed. If you want 7, pay up to cover the school costs. Everyone can graduate with 6 periods, if you want extra AP classes, music, drama and whatever other extra classes offered pay for it just like sports is now pay to play.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:09 am

Foothill has had one extra period than Amador for years. Amador parents have complained about this, but nothing was done. In terms of scheduling flexibility, Foothill students have had the advantage.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:50 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Amador parents, petition en masse to have your child enrolled in Foothill.


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Posted by Amador Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:10 pm

As best I know Foothill does not offer more sections they just distribute them differently. Amador chooses to only add at the begining of the day, Foothill has some in the morning and some in the afternoon so cool your jets everyone.
The question is does this change have to be negotiated with the union and are all students having equal opportunity for classes at both schools?


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Amador Parent -- Yes, this change would have to be negotiated with the union. It has not been finalized, because no contract has been presented to the board at a district meeting, and they have not voted to approve or not approve of it.

Once a tentative agreement has been reached, I believe it must be sunshined. According to the Independent article last Thursday, the Pleasanton PTA council is working to make sure that the district and the union are aware of that requirement, and of the desire for parents to weigh in before the agreement is ratified and implemented.

We do not know when the district and the unions will reach a tentative agreement. I hope it will be before Feb. 23.

Will you be able to attend the budget workshop on Tuesday night?


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Posted by Common sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm

My neighbor forwarded an email they got about raising money for elementary strings and band.

My reaction? Why would I want to give money to a program that will be dead soon?

No 7th period means no extra classes, so our kids will have to sign up for the required classes and that's it. The district should let the community know that they are planning to get rid of music, because getting rid of that 7th period will essentially kill the music program.

To the comments about elementary vs. high school cuts: don't you realize that one day these elementary school kids will be in high school? So these cuts to the high school will affect them eventually.


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Posted by Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Taking only 6 classes is not the end of the world:

My kids only did 6 classes at Amador and all of them are now in very prestigious colleges. They took as many honors or AP classes as were offered - and Amador offers many of them. We did things this way because of the time demands of their sports activities and because I wanted them to get enough sleep for their health. A couple of their friends took 7 classes, over-extended themselves, did not do as well in their classes and didn't get into really good schools.

If you want your kids to do more advanced classes, they can take classes at community colleges (that gives them college credit and reduces the amount of time they need to be in college - and that saves $$$$) They can also take classes during the summer at almost any university in the nation - a pricey option but it exists.


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Posted by Another Amador Parent
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Feb 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm

No one is arguing about the number of minutes Foothill High School students attend classes versus Amador students.

But it stands to reason that if one school offers 8 different class periods and another offers 7 different class periods, there's more flexibility for students to schedule classes in a school that offers 8 periods.


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Posted by Ann Martin
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Another online class option is National University Virtual High School. They offer a variety of classes, including AP classes, and their classes are accepted by CSUs and UCs for credit.
I heard of NUVHS through Dr. Mary Jones, Education Programs Consultant for the California Dept. of Education. I contacted her for information when a scheduling confict prevented my daughter from taking Senior AP English at Amador, and online classes from Las Positas were full (it's been awhile, but I think at the time Brigham Young wasn't offering a 12th grade AP English course).
For information on courses offered, cost, etc. the NUVHS website is www.nuvhs.org.
My daughter's experience with NUVHS was very positive - challenging courswork, very prompt turnaround on all schoolwork sumbitted, lots of one one one instruction from the teacher....I only wished we'd found NUVHS sooner.
I also found NUVHS very helpful and prompt in responding to questions I had.

I would definitely recommend NUVHS to any parent who has a student who enjoys taking classes online.




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Posted by P-towner
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 1, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Interesting that this is coming as such a shock. Going to the 7 period day was something extra at the high school in the same way going to 20-1 was and enhancement at the elementary. It's time to "share the pain".

I'm sure the teachers will make concessions, but I don't think it's realistic to think they're going to freeze S & C, cut out 5 instructional days, cut staff development days AND take a 4 % pay cut.

I think what is happening now is about actions and consequences for the community. We had the opportunity to support our schools last May and we didn't. Don't put this on the teachers. They'll take cuts, but why should they be expected to give up salary for programs that the community itself didn't value enough to support?


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Posted by Johnny
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm

P-Towner,

The vote in May against making the rich richer without benefit to the kids. It is a complete slap in the face to the community for the highest paid teachers in the area to refuse pay cuts when the people who payvtaxes for their salaries are hurtung and will continue to hurt more. No one is moving into this state (other than illegals) in numbers and the folks with money are vacating because of lack of opportunity and high taxes.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Just the Facts
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 4:06 pm

DCOT - All the proposed cuts you mention are "negotiated" proposed cuts so it is not as simple as counting on those to save all the programs.

To everyone else - Foothill only has 7 classes this year due to cuts and they are being told they can only sign up for 6 at the moment as well. Can you imagine the nightmare for the school if they were allowed to sign up for 7 and then there was no 7th? Easier to add on in the event the cut is not made - I doubt it is blackmail - just logical.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Amador Parents on econnect should have received an explanatory email from Principal Coupe. It was sent out at 1:35, less than 24 hours after DCOT started this thread.

Slowly but surely, district communication with the community is getting better. Still a long way to go, but every little improvement helps!


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Posted by Question for DCOT
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 4:49 pm

DCOT,
Did you ever get an answer from anyone about this question?

What was the comment Principal Coupe made at the parent scheduling meeting last week about this being tied to the failure of Measure G to pass? Can anyone confirm any of this?



Was wondering if anyone was able to tell you what Mr. Coupe said.

Foothill should probably update its website if it has only 7 class periods this year because their bell schedule shows 8. Do we rely on what a poster said, or what is on a PUSD website for accurate info?


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Posted by Amador Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I was at the parent scheduling meeting last week. First, the counselors said several times that because of the almost $8 million deficit in the budget, changes had to be made, including going to the 6 period day. When pushed for clarity, they deferred to Mr. Coupe, who was sitting in the back of the room. He said that they had to give "core" class requests before the March deadline when teachers had to be notified whether or not they were going to get a pink slip. He mentioned that deadline several times.

Question: Why is Amador using Zangle to schedule and not Foothill? I've never understood why the two schools operate so independently. They are both in a small district. I came from a district with 5 high schools and they were run basically the same.


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Posted by Foothill parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2010 at 1:07 pm

A lot of the problems are the the district spends money without any
oversight!! Look at the ongoing Neal school fiasco! Still the district
is spending money no end in sight... Why does Casey and the
district not have to answer to the public before large amounts are
negotiated or spent?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2010 at 9:57 pm

After talking to several parents, it looks like kids can indeed get all their credits needed for graduation with only 6 periods.

Apparently, many school districts have 6 periods only.

An email from the Amador principal makes it sound like no decision has been made, and that the board has not yet decided to eliminate the 7 period day.

However, what is being said and what is being done is not the same. Many classes will lack enrollment without that extra period.

If I had to decide, I would assume a 6 period day and make sure my child enrolled in the classes needed.


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Posted by P-Ton Mom
a resident of Las Positas
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:47 am

It's not about taking enough classes to graduate. It's about the kids being able to take one class that is interesting to them - an art, music, marketing, leadership, something besides the basic UC required classes.

We don't want to raise little robots that we ship off to college. They deserve to take one class of their choice that they find interesting to make them more well rounded.


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Posted by Another Mom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2010 at 1:56 pm

P-ton Mom,
I agree that kids should be able to take a class of their choice. But even with 7 periods, that is still difficult for many students to do between taking courses required for graduation, and for many kids, loading up on AP classes to increase their chances of getting into colleges of their choice.
But I also think that it may be time for America to re-think how it educates its children. It's not just Pleasanton, and not just California who is having budget problems in regard to education - it's nationwide.
The schools' first responsibility is to provide an education that allows students to move ahead with their lives after high school graduation, whether it's college or a trade.
I'm in favor of starting from scratch, and first determining the costs to provide a basic academic education and providing the services mandated by state and federal law.
Once those costs are determined, if there's funds available in the budget, the community can determine which of the extras it deems important. Or community groups can fundraise to provide the extras.
I don't like the idea of seeing classes such as photography or drama, or leadership cut back or eliminated. I don't like the idea of seeing sports programs scaled back or eliminated. They benefit many students.
But many of these extras are available through local programs. Yes, there would be costs involved to take a photography class or acting class elsewhere or costs to play a sport might be higher with a local team than they are in the schools. But parents and kids either have to find a way to cover these costs, or face up to the reality that a limited source of income requires families to make choices.
Others have said it before - the community has to determine what it values most regarding their children's education.
It's not good news that if extras are cut, today's kids won't have the same opportunities at school that kids had 10 years ago.
But if PUSD and the US wants to educate children to be able to compete in what has become a global economy, we need to focus our resources on what's necessary for them to meet that goal.
We have to decide what we must have, and what we can live without.


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Posted by Amador Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2010 at 2:44 pm

"Another Mom" brings up many good points. The only thing I would add is that, unbeknownst to most, the music programs at both high schools are primarily funded by the parents. These award winning programs, which the schools and district take pride in, would not be as strong if it wasn't for the monies paid and raised by the parents and students. The instructors are fine educators, but they could not run the programs they do without the outside funding. Taking away a period of the day will make it much more difficult to maintain these incredible programs. The teacher's union and district need to look at that.


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Posted by Do they accept the online classes as credit
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Ann:

Do the classes at NUVHS accepted at the Pleasanton high schools? If a student takes AP Chemistry online, would that be accepted at the high school for credit and GPA purposes?


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Posted by Common sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2010 at 4:48 pm

"Taking away a period of the day will make it much more difficult to maintain these incredible programs. The teacher's union and district need to look at that."

Yes, the district might as well say good-bye to its music program. Elimination of the 7 period day will make sure that few enroll in these electives. As it is right now, many have decided to sit on the fence and wait before making donations to the music program. Why donate when a kid won't be able to participate in that program because that extra class won't be possible?

That means music teachers must either be laid off or moved to other classes displacing other teachers with less seniority. Without enrollment in the music classes, the district won't be able to justify keeping a teacher for just a few students in a class.


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Posted by Ann Martin
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Dear "Do they accept online classes..."
Yes, the classes at NUVHS are accepted by PUSD for high school credit, and AP classes are accepted for high school and college credit (CSU and UC systems).
But if you're interested in signing a student up for classes at NUVHS, it's best to first get the course info from NUVHS and then take the information to your student's guidance counselor and get the counselor to sign off on the class. (in other words, get it in writing).

Amador generally directs students interested in taking online work to go through Brigham Young, Las Positas, and I know they have another online source specifically for AP English.
My daughter preferred the format of NUVHS course work because students work at their own pace...they aren't required to turn in assignments at specific times. There's a final date when all coursework and tests must be turned in/completed...otherwise, students do the work and take the tests as their schedules permit.
Please don't hesitate to email me at Ann0819@aol.com if you have any other questions... happy to help.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Common Sense, I'm still trying to understand this 7th period-music connection. You wrote "Elimination of the 7 period day will make sure that few enroll in these electives."

I thought that band and other music classes were incredibly popular? I understand that some students will have to choose, but for since so many students really enjoy their instruments and ensembles, it is puzzling to me that you would predict the total evaporation of enrollment.

Also, has anyone been exploring the possibility of setting up a kind of "academy" for musicians? Something that could operate on school grounds after the normal school day ends, but is run by an outside entity (my daughter has tried science, Spanish and art classes after school at Alisal in this format).

I would certainly want to see some sort of scholarships or sliding scale of fees for any "academy" so that kids whose parents are facing big financial challenges could still participate.


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Posted by Interesting rhetoric
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm

No matter how you slice it kids will be affected. The reason most of the budget goes to salaries is because education IS only happening where there are educators. I personally feel we need to tread lightly when we talk of cutting pay for the people who care for our kids. I'm not saying I am against pay cuts however, since most teachers volunteer a great deal of their personal time & money to help OUR kids we should be careful about taking from these people.
Think about why you never decided to be a teacher. I bet the reasons are many and then think of the sacrifices that the people who do teach have made. And these people work day in and out for your kids.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2010 at 7:38 am

Sandy said:

Also, has anyone been exploring the possibility of setting up a kind of "academy" for musicians? Something that could operate on school grounds after the normal school day ends, but is run by an outside entity (my daughter has tried science, Spanish and art classes after school at Alisal in this format).


Think this is an idea worth exploring. Sandy, could you send it on to the School Board?


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Posted by Common sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Sandy:

Most music students are also the ones who take that extra science class, that extra AP class, etc.

Most music students are enrolled in 7 periods, a full load. Talk to parents, many will be opting out of music and joining youth symphonies outside of school in order to continue to take their extra science or extra math or extra language.

These are competitive students. Since there are youth groups and symphonies and bands outside that can be joined, my guess is that yes, the music electives will lack enrollment if that 7 period day is eliminated.

An alternative to 7 period days: do what private schools do and have classes instead of every day, in an alternate schedule. Kids taking band would only do so twice a week, and calculus would be 3 times a week.

Music instruction would not suffer. Most youth orchestras outside of school have rehearsals only once or twice per week, with concerts maybe 4-5 times per year.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 9, 2010 at 6:49 am

I can see how moving to a block schedule (some classes MWF, some T/Th) might increase efficiency. I can see benefits for teachers, and for students. I think this can be done in a way that continues to meet state requirements for instructional minutes.

It's not clear to me how that saves dollars, which is where this thread began.

As far as I can tell, the only options the board can consider are (1) increasing class sizes in high school and (2) reducing the number of course sections offered (which then reduces student selections).

The negative effects on students of eliminating the seventh-period option might be offset by the creation of a private "academy" but it also sounds like there are already private symphonies where student musicians might go to be part of a band, if there is no easy way to take band plus six other classes. I can mention it to a board member or two, but I don't think it's their job of set up the whole academy -- I think the parents of the kids who might benefit would have to take the lead on that idea.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 9, 2010 at 8:18 am

Stacey is a registered user.

It only saves money if the longer classes are also larger. Then less teachers are needed and the teachers that are there have more time to get to each student.


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Posted by Heather Simmons
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Hello!

I work for National University Virtual High School (NUVHS) and wanted to take the opportunity to further expand upon the great information Ann Martin provided above. We do have over 80 courses available, including many AP options which are approved by the College Board, UC and CSU systems. All courses are self-paced so that students can complete courses on their own time and when it is most convenient for them, like Ann's daughter did. We will have all of our coursework available during the summer term as well if this is more accommodating to your students' schedules.

If anyone has additional questions I can answer, please feel free to contact me directly at hsimmons@nuvhs.org and I would be glad to help.

Ann--I cannot thank you enough for your kind review. It was great working with you and your daughter as well!

Heather


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