Dublin High School 7 Period Schedule Approved for 2015-16 by Dublin School Board
One of the most hotly debated and yet most intriguing subjects that have been publicly discussed over the past four weeks came to a head at the regularly scheduled DUSD Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday night. This discussion spanned over two community town hall presentations, a special work study session by the Board and at this evening’s meeting.
At stake was the continuation and expansion of the College and Career Readiness Program (CCRP) at Dublin High. The initial implementation of the CCRP was evident in this current academic year. It resulted in a 55 minute daily lunch period. This expansion allowed the formation of the Freshmen Mentoring Program (FMP) which dedicated a 25-30 minute space of time for 9th graders to experience a variety of counseling/mentoring/enrichment programs.
For the proponents of the CCRP, the initiative would not be complete without ultimately incorporating a seventh period into the existing school day. The proposal including shortening the passing period from six to five minutes, maintaining the expanded lunch period, reducing instructional class time from 55 to 51 minutes and instituting a mandatory seventh period – also known as the “Gael Period.”
The agenda item started with a lengthy, but far more informative presentation by Dublin High School administration and staff. This section was filled with far more detail than had been previously provided during the two town hall meetings. The Trustees were given a period of time to ask their own clarifying questions. Trustee Greg Tomlinson expressed his reservations about the expansion of CCRP and his concerns were largely based upon the fiscal viability of sustaining this program not only next year, but into the future. The District itself projected a $1.2 million set-aside for the first year of operation. Some of these costs would be “one time only” and yet, it represents a continuing operational cost. Superintendent Hanke noted the challenges presented from Sacramento as funds will be coming from the State to support the District, but the specificity may be lacking until Governor Brown makes his final budgetary revision later this month. Further, the newly enacted Local Control Funding Formula creates a potential quandary as this system tends to punish high-performing school districts – such as DUSD.
Trustees Sean Kenney and Dan Cunningham were readily on board with approving the program. Mr. Kenney was passionate about his desire to assist DUSD students not only gain acceptance into college, but to also further succeed. He stated that any continued delay in expanding CCRP would remove any and all of the positive momentum that has been developed. Similarly, Mr. Cunningham commented on what Dublin High School looked like 10 years ago versus what we have today. While he expressed pride over those that are gaining entry to Top 10 universities and his concern over those attaining D’s and F’s – he made an expression in support of the “majority” of students that reside in the middle. He felt that the implementation of CCRP would truly assist these students.
Trustee Megan Rouse offered numerous questions to the DHS staff. Like Mr. Tomlinson, she had specific questions relative to the economic viability of supporting CCRP in 2015-16 and in the years beyond. One of the key factors that she mentioned was to install a “feedback loop” that came from both students and parents relative to the effectiveness of the program. Additionally, she cited the exception that student/athletes at Dublin High would gain for first access to a Gael Period in 7th so not to disrupt practice/competition travel time for their respective sports. Further, she mentioned the potential for oversight as it related to NCS-mandated rules connected with athletic sports practice time.
Trustee Board President Amy Miller concluded the debate with her thoughts. Some of her topics had been previously expressed and she opted to talk about student wellness and homework. The recently conducted Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) student survey revealed that 88% of our students feel either highly or moderately stressed. It is a staggering number. Ms. Miller wanted to ensure that this result would be a critical element if the program would indeed expand next year. Additionally, she asked pointed questions as to whether the Homework and Grading Policies adopted into Board Policy are being properly administered in the week to week business of running a high school.
The Trustee meeting was then opened up to public comments/questions that were limited to three minutes. For those that elected to submit a speaker slip, the tone/thesis of the comments resembled a split in terms of supporting or rejecting this proposal. Subsequently, each Trustee was provided an additional period to ask refining questions.
One consistent theme that came from each Trustee was the reaction to reducing daily instructional class time by up to five minutes. Using simple math, this would actually reduce the aggregate teaching time by up to 2.5 weeks. Each Trustee chimed in about “replacing this time by starting the school year much earlier in August – thus creating a scenario where final exams could actually be completed prior to the Winter break, and more instructional time would occur before AP and other standardized exams.
Once all debate concluded, the Board of Trustees elected to vote on this matter – with conditions established by Superintendent Hanke which, among others, would provide oversight to CCRP’s effectiveness and its fiscal viability. The CCRP was adopted by the Board of Trustees by a 4-1 vote, Mr. Tomlinson being the lone dissenting vote.
Dublin High School will look and feel a bit different in 2015/16. We sincerely hope that this new program will benefit all students. That it will unsaddle the relative high number of students that are attaining either a D or an F. That it will adequately prepare freshmen to adapt to their new high school environment. That these measures will be executed to improve the overall mental/emotional health of all of its students. And, that a survey taken a year from now will yield a significant reduction in the stress levels of our students at Dublin High.
Press Release issued by the Dublin Unified School District:
- The addition of a 7th-period to the instructional day, providing students a “GAEL Period”, an academic flex period that students can tailor to fit their individual academic needs.
- The addition of a Freshman Seminar for all incoming 9th-graders – a class that will use an established curriculum to assist students in developing skills that help them adapt to the rigors of high school and beyond.
- Expanded tutorial, academic support and wellness services through “The Hub”.
- Modifications to the Freshman Mentoring Program, which was rolled out this school year.
- A clearly refined action plan prepared by staff.
- The securing of on-going funding to support the program.
- Clearly defined mechanisms for feedback, including advisory committees, outside review, parent and student surveys and focus groups.
- Approval by the Dublin Teachers Association.