Switching to a block schedule is under consideration at the junior high and high school starting next year, officials said at the district trustee meeting.
Calistoga Junior-Senior High School Principal David Kumamoto and three teachers presented to the board the possibilities and realities of going from seven, 52-minute periods a day to 90-minute block periods four days a week. The new proposed schedule would have students attending all classes on Mondays and the block periods Tuesday through Friday.
The initial idea of changing to a modified block schedule came from teachers at the school who are currently experimenting with block classes in the junior high and seeing positive results with the longer periods, Kumamoto said.
According to the teachers, a leadership team was put together to consider possible scheduling choices. After coming together and presenting, 17 of the 22 teachers voted in favor of the new block schedule, Kumamoto said.
“If Common Core standards ask our students and teachers to go deeper into skill and concept curriculum, larger chunks of time allow for more meaningful instruction and practice,” Kumamoto said.
With Common Core and project-based learning practices, standards are different and changing, said math teacher Kathy Bone. She said she’s willing to see where the new block scheduling takes them but has concerns when it comes to not seeing students every day to rehearse math.
“Independent practice is necessary,” Bone said of the proposed schedule. She added that homework will play an important role on the days she doesn’t see the students, but the new block periods would provide more time to go over assignments.
Trustee Marty Hunt said he remembers when another group addressed the board in years past and pitched the idea that seven periods a day are more beneficial to students. Recognizing that state standards are changing, he isn’t convinced about the block scheduling just yet, Hunt said.
“I need to see more before this is the way to go. I like the idea but I need more convincing,” Hunt said.
The leadership team plans on visiting schools that participate in block scheduling and study the benefits for students and teachers, Kumamoto said. Added in the proposed schedule will include time each week for teacher collaboration, student access and staff development.
With the Wildcat Café sign hanging in the background, the March school board meeting had a different feel than any before as it was held for the first time in the new multipurpose room at CJSHS.
As the new setting for all future board meetings, the multipurpose room provided an open atmosphere with a large projection screen for all to see. In honor of the new space, Superintendent Esmeralda Mondragon played a video documenting the process and people it took to complete both the gym and multipurpose room, which now includes a music room and a commercial grade kitchen with serving and eating areas.
The next regular board meeting will be Monday, April 7, at 6 p.m. at the CJSHS multipurpose room. Future agenda items include Phase II construction discussion, a food services update and the annual athletics report.