Gilroy – A year has passed since a group of local citizens began exploring alternative high school schedules and although it was slightly tweaked, many of the concerns have yet to be addressed.
“There’s work left to be done and it is on one of our upcoming agendas,” said Gilroy Unified School District Trustee Rhoda Bress. “There’s obviously pros and cons to every schedule and I think we want to have as many pros as possible.”
The probe into Gilroy High School’s bell schedule began at the beginning of last school year, when the district assembled a committee solely dedicated to the issue. Concerns about the high school’s block schedule – specifically that two-hour long classes is excessive and that students don’t receive the repetition necessary for classes such as foreign language and math – drove the inquiry.
After spending six months reviewing other high school schedules and discussing the advantages and drawbacks of each, the group presented a revised schedule during a special board meeting in March. But the recommendation decided upon by the committee, wherein students attend six, hour-long classes Monday through Wednesday and three 100-minute classes on Thursdays and Fridays, was not embraced by GHS staffers.
Instead, the teachers recommended that the high school alter the school day by making Monday a traditional six-period day and keep the long blocks intact. And that’s exactly what happened.
These days, the only difference is GHS students visit all six of their classes on Monday. They attend the odd-numbered periods, or one, three and five on Tuesday and Thursday and the even-numbered or two, four and six on Wednesday and Friday.
“The upside is we get to see our students three times a week consistently,” said Mark Rose, who teaches English at Gilroy high.
And seeing everyone of his students on Monday is beneficial, he said. The educator spends the short period at the onset of the week conducting assessments and lectures and brings out the textbooks during the long blocks.
While the two-hour classes aren’t as practical for disciplines such as math or certain groups of students who get restless, it’s a perfect fit for some.
“It’s been beneficial for the AP (Advanced Placement) because we have so much to go through,” said Rose, who added that the new schedule is the best of the three he has experienced during his eight-year tenure at GHS.
Although Bress, who served on the bell schedule committee last school year, said the Monday change does address the repetition issue, she still has concerns. She considers the blocks too long, pointing out that during their review of other schedules the committee discovered that no other school meets for two hours.
In addition, that athletes often miss fifth and sixth periods when leaving early for games, is also a serious concern, Bress said.
In Morgan Hill, the public high schools dealt with the sports issue by offering zero period. Football players take weight training at 7am and other classes, both electives and a few core subjects, are offered.
Students who take zero period then have the option of taking on a seven-class load or finishing up early in the day. And classes are about an hour long.
At Sobrato High School, physical education, Spanish, math and leadership are a few of the classes offered in the early-morning hour.
“The athletes getting out early is really a problem with some of our sports and we do use the zero period to help alleviate (the impact),” said Sobrato Principal Richard Knapp.