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Dublin School Board Approves Hybrid Dublin High Bell Schedule Change for ’14-15

June 25, 2014

Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees Debates Dublin High School Schedule ChangeWith the end of the fiscal calendar quickly approaching at the end of June, the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees convened on Tuesday evening to conduct their final meeting of the year. One of the highlights was the appointments to several positions, including the new Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and the new Assistant Principals at Frederiksen, Dublin and Green Elementary schools.

However, agenda item J5 loomed as the most significant issue as it relates to the Dublin High School bell schedule. As we previously reported in multiple stories in June, the DUSD was contemplating a rather dramatic change to the way in which the school day is constructed. This potential change was driven by two major factors. For years, the District has been examining ways to mitigate the number of “D’s” and “F’s” that have been sustained by a significant percentage of the general student population. While DUSD has accomplished a ten-year record run of API improvement across the board, an achievement gap does exist for a sub-section of its students. Like most all school districts in California, DUSD has been researching ways to reduce or eliminate this gap. The movement gained further momentum with a site visit by several of its members to Aldai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL. By weaving a Professional Learning Community (PLC) into its culture and furthermore, embedding intervention periods within the body of the school day, Stevenson experienced very positive results. Twenty years ago, approximately 60% of the students at Stevenson had achieved either a D or F – or both. Today, that number has been reduced into single digits. It was not a quick turn and one that required multiple changes to their overall strategy and philosophy.

In June, DUSD hosted two Town Hall meetings – one at Fallon Middle School and a second at Dublin High to roll out the concept behind a modified schedule – one that would include adding a 7th period to each day. In addition, a mandatory freshman orientation period would be added for 9th graders to receive ongoing counsel and mentoring as they began their high school careers. The presentation featured a two-year plan. One of the primary facets included an en masse lunch period in 2014-15 and then a split lunch period in 2015-16. Part of this was driven by the fact there will be over 600 incoming 9th graders to DHS in the fall. This is in contrast to the 425 seniors that graduated just last week. This was going to be a logistical necessity. But the plan, as presented, included the insertion of a 7th period for targeted intervention which would result in a release after 3:20 PM.

Dublin High School and District Staff Present Dublin High School Proposed Schedule Change for 2014-15 School YearThe feedback from the two Town Hall meetings was honest and swift. These comments included statements about the challenge of a five minute passing period between classes, the impact of spring athletes potentially missing up to two classes per day on an away event and where would all of these students be housed during the “Gael Period?” But, at its heart, many of those who chose to remark questioned why high achieving students would be asked to stay for an additional period – when many felt that it was simply not needed. It was a valid question and one that was not easy to answer. The overall goal for the district is to strive for academic achievement for all and to not single out students. Upon review, the metrics and data supported that intervention was successful when it was implemented during the school day.

On Tuesday, the Trustees were able to share what they have observed and the feedback that they have received from the community surrounding this topic. Two commentaries were consistently mentioned. One, there was a sense that this bell schedule change seemed “rushed” and some asked why this could not be deferred until after the first semester or next year. The second concern revolved around a lack of specificity as it related to student-tutor ratios and the actually budgetary impact upon the District. First year costs for tutors and administration, including increased campus supervision were estimated at $500,000. In reality, it was a specific cost that no one in the room could accurately pinpoint.

The Trustees had a lively, yet civil debate on the merits of this program – both for initial roll out and the second year. In the end, the overall tenor of the comments was solid support, but with specific reservations. The board finalized their discussion and voted. The measure passed 4-1 with Trustee Greg Tomlinson as the lone dissenting vote. As agreed upon, the modified schedule will not include a mandatory 7th period. Instead, a “Guided Support” period at the end of the day will be staffed by tutors and/or teachers. They will be present to support students that achieved a D or F. Other students not requiring this support would then be released to depart the campus at approximately 3:09 PM. Guided support periods will also be available prior to first period and during lunch.

Further, the Trustees agreed to the year one roll out, under the condition that District staff makes an earnest effort to measure parent/staff feedback so that a full schedule implementation – one that includes an embedded 7th period – is prepared to be installed in the 2015-16 school year. Now ratified, the District announced that multiple communication vehicles will be employed to convey these schedule changes to both incoming 9th grade families as well as to continuing students prior to fall registration.

This was a rather significant day for all stake holders in DUSD and will hold long-lasting effects for all of those enrolled at Dublin High School. Yet, it was also a simple demonstration of having parents and students choosing to participate in the discussion. The approved iteration to the schedule reflected the advice and concerns of all those impacted. OneDublin.org would like to commend all who elected to be a part of the process.

Dublin High School CCRP Program Proposed Schedule Change for 2014-15

 

Official Dublin Unified School District press release:

BOARD OF TRUSTEES APPROVES SCHEDULE CHANGE AT DUBLIN HIGH SCHOOL

On Tuesday, June 24 at the regular meeting of the Dublin Unified Board of Trustees, the Board approved a schedule change at Dublin High School to begin with the 2014-15 school year.

This change was prompted by extensive work on the part of the Dublin High administration, as well as a design team made up of teachers, classified staff, district leadership and parents to create opportunities to improve student learning as well as to offer our incoming freshmen a chance for smoother integration into campus life of Dublin High School.

The approved changes, which will go into effect at the start of school on August 27, include the following components:

  • An extended school day, with students dismissed approximately 20 minutes later than the current schedule.
  • A lunch period extended by 20 minutes.
  • A Freshman Mentoring Program, which will be mandatory for all members of the incoming Class of 2018 and will take place during a portion of the extended lunch period.
  • A Learning Center, which will be staffed with qualified tutors to provide our students the academic help they need before school, during lunch and after school.
  • A Guided Study period from approximately 3:10-3:40 p.m. each day in which students will be able to receive help.

No instructional time for individual classes was reduced to accommodate this schedule change and we believe we have created a schedule that allows students full participation in their extra-curricular activities while offering what we believe is necessary time and opportunity for critical academic support.

The Board vote included a commitment to continue toward a “full implementation“ of the College and Career Readiness program in the 2015-16 school year, and the details of that implementation will be planned, refined and communicated out to our school community in the fall.

The Dublin High teaching staff is in overwhelming support of this plan and school and district leaders strongly believe that building time, flexibility and opportunity for students to maximize their learning within the school day is the right direction for Dublin High School.

We are excited about this change and look forward to offering important communications throughout the summer to help all of our families prepare. In the meantime, we hope everyone has a restful and enjoyable summer.

Sincerely,

Dr. Stephen Hanke – Superintendent
Carol Shimizu – Principal
Maureen Byrne – Assistant Principal

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One Comment
  1. Art permalink
    June 25, 2014 6:58 pm

    Nicely written article…! Maybe this new schedule will be the key to meeting the Districts’ goal of reducing D’s and F’s. Then there won’t be a need for full implementation of the College and Career Readiness program in the 2015-16 school year that includes an embedded 7th period.

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