School board OKs new bell schedule for Amador Valley High

Trustees also discuss curriculum adoption, approve bond oversight committee

Amador Valley High School will have a new bell schedule next school year after the Pleasanton school board unanimously approved the change at its meeting Tuesday night.

The school will pilot an “access” period during the 2017-18 school year, setting aside 40 minutes every Wednesday and Thursday for an advisory time with an assigned teacher.

During the access period, students will get support based on their individual needs, according to school staff. They will be able to do things like get organized for the week ahead, study for a test or seek help for stress.

Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays will remain traditional school days, with students having all six regular periods, but the bell schedule Wednesdays and Thursdays will shift to a modified block schedule. On those days, students will have the access period and one half of their classes.

Class periods on Wednesdays and Thursdays will last about 90 minutes, with the access period scheduled from 10:26 to 11:06 a.m. Like Wednesdays currently, both block days will have "late start" components in which most students will start class at 8:50 a.m. and end the day at 3:01 p.m.

First period on regular schedule days will start a minute earlier than now -- at 8 a.m. -- with the school day ending at 3:11 p.m., and most class periods lengthened from 57 to 59 minutes.

The early "A" period will run from 7-7:55 a.m. on regular days and on Thursdays from 7-8:45 a.m., with no session Wednesdays.

School staff said during a Feb. 28 presentation to the board that the proposal was a move meant to target student stress and address other student needs. It was brought to the board after the school researched the concept and surveyed students, parents and staff, finding the majority of each group supported it.

No changes are currently proposed to Foothill High School’s bell schedule. Two students, the only ones to offer public comment on the matter, advocated for an access period at Foothill.

Later in the meeting, Foothill High principal Jason Krolikowski said the school was interested in the access period concept.

“Amador was ahead of the game and had those conversations much earlier,” he said. “We have had small discussions at our site and we’re going to make them bigger.”

In other business

* After hearing concerns from several teachers, interim superintendent Micaela Ochoa tabled a recommended English language arts/English language development curriculum adoption to bring back a modified proposal March 28.

District administration brought the proposal to the board for its second reading Tuesday, which called for implementing Benchmark Advance curriculum integrated with Heinemann Units of Study across PUSD elementary schools for 2017-18 and beyond.

However, board members expressed hesitance about voting on the item after hearing from several teachers who expressed a preference for the Units of Study curriculum and against having to use two programs. Teachers also pointed out that while the programs were piloted, they weren’t tried out together.

After Ochoa pulled the item, Laursen said, “We’re not going to have 100% (agreement)...but we really want to get it right.”

* The board appointed nine community members to its Measure I1 citizens’ bond oversight committee Tuesday, with one seat still needing to be filled.

The committee’s purpose is to ensure bond funds are only spent on school projects listed in the approved bond project list. Money generated by the new property tax will go toward safety, energy and water improvements, and modernized and new school infrastructure.

The district received 33 applications for a maximum 10 spots. However, no one applied to the seat representing a person active in a bona fide taxpayers’ organization.

PUSD will leave that seat vacant until a qualified applicant comes forward.

The committee is comprised of the following members, who serve two-year terms:

* Jill Buck, representing the Pleasanton business community

* Patricia Kohnen, who is active in a senior citizens' organization

* Steve Zevanove, who has a child enrolled in PUSD

* Samantha Webb, who has a child enrolled in PUSD and is active in a parent-teacher organization

* Yi Huang, representing the public at-large

* Keith Lam, representing the public at-large

* Rashmi Nijagal, representing the public at-large

* Nicholas Olsen, representing the public at-large

* Kathleen Ruegsegger, representing the public at-large

Voters passed the $270 million school facilities initiative in November with a 69.1% yes vote. The initiative needed a 55% majority yes vote to pass.


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Posted by Yet Another Botch
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2017 at 8:45 am

It has been established recently that District staff (the Education Services team) essentially violates academic integrity and steals/plagiarizes entire written content like "Diversity of thought is not only welcome, but is central to the goal of educating students to be able to critically and compassionately navigate the complexities of our global society" from other school districts such as Albany Unified.

Now I wonder if the District, other than stealing the thoughts/writings of Superintendent Valerie Williams (Albany Unified) can also not read. It is well known State Law for school districts for composition of Bond Oversight Committees clearly state they may not include any employee or official of the school district or any vendor, contractor, or consultant of the school district.

However, they just picked Jill Buck to be on the Bond Oversight Committee as the Business representative from Pleasanton even though this violates State Law. She is a consultant for the District and choosing her for the Bond Oversight Committee violates State Law. She was just before the Board in January 2017 (just a few weeks ago) in fact, as a consultant implementing a Waste / Environmental curriculum for classes at the high school level.

Either the ethically challenged District and Board cannot read State Law, knows what it is and just doesn't care, or simply has suffered mass amnesia.

Or they are too busy plagiarizing work from other Districts and Democratic party operatives to actually adequately screen and choose a Bond Oversight Committee that conforms to State Law.

How can we trust that the Board can actually hire and screen anyone like a Superintendent when they can't even pick a Board for a Bond Oversight Committee that conforms to State Law?

18 people like this
Posted by forpetessake
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 15, 2017 at 9:44 am

Fantastic. Another extremely difficult schedule for working parents who don't have the luxury of a third driver in the house. The school district seems to have forgotten we're no longer living in the 1970s and there's a parent in every home able to meet each school's whims. K-12 school impacts the entire family, not just the students, and I wish the district took a more family-centric view of things.

This sounds like a nice option for kids who are struggling, but how does it help those who are not?

5 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 15, 2017 at 11:27 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I wish AVHS had chosen a block schedule for all five days. I suppose they have to start somewhere and piloting is a favorite approach--unfortunate. Two of our kids had five day block 20 years ago. They loved it and were happier students for it. It was a negative adjustment when we moved back to PUSD.

If our students are struggling to keep up and/or stressed and/or taking multiple APs and Honors courses, then changing to block and having at least one advisory gives students the gift of time.

Hopefully the district is working with Wheels and the City so there are a variety of options (better bus routes, better cycling lanes) for getting to Amador. How about motorized scooters? Maybe we can get that worthless and often broken law changed while we are at it (must be 16 and a licensed driver to go 12-15 mph).

21 people like this
Posted by spudly
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Mar 15, 2017 at 2:51 pm

More first world problems and first world level of complainers.

Every kid will appreciate some free time to break up the day and each child will make use of it as they see fit. Private industry generally has more breaks and flexibility than a high school schedule.

Good job on the decision. The mental health of these kids will improve and that is more important than most other factors.

4 people like this
Posted by Not a real block
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2017 at 4:51 pm

This schedule is a disaster. They should jump into a real block schedule not just a crazy schedule that is difficult to follow. A real block schedule would allow for large blocks of time that can be utilized for group projects as are the norm with common core. I'm so glad my kids attend/graduated from FHS.

10 people like this
Posted by Dig a little deeper
a resident of Beratlis Place
on Mar 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm

If you compare the statement from Albany to the date Pleasanton published their document you can see that Albany lifted from Pleasanton. It is a pretty good statement they stole, think about it.

5 people like this
Posted by Foothill Parent
a resident of Mission Park
on Mar 15, 2017 at 10:48 pm

I wish that Foothill was also considering this schedule. Amador kids will get a chance for longer science labs, more time to collaborate on group projects, and homework time with peers. This schedule is intended to reduce school stress by giving kids more time to complete their work with teachers available to help them if they need it.
While I can see that some parents may have issues with the driving schedule, the benefit is for the kids. I know a number of kids at Foothill who want this change too. The two high schools are supposed to be the same, yet Amador seems to be more pro-active about trying new ideas, leaving Foothill to catch up. Let's be fair and help all of our high school kids. Why can't we do this at both schools?

Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 16, 2017 at 9:52 am

I think this will play havoc on the sleep patterns of all involved.

Like this comment
Posted by Not a real block schedule
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2017 at 10:25 am

@Foothill Parent-- FHS teachers did not support changing to a block schedule, so they did not proceed with proposing a change. As a block schedule, the new AVHS schedule is not a true block schedule. The two HS don't have exactly the same schedule as FHS does not have brunch. I'm glad FHS is not trying this half baked schedule.

3 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Walsh, editor
associate editor
on Mar 21, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Jeremy Walsh, editor is a registered user.

In response to Yet Another Botch's comment, the Weekly contacted the district about committee member Jill Buck. PUSD spokesman Patrick Gannon denied the assertion that Buck is a paid consultant for the district, saying, "Jill Buck is a volunteer in the District (like many of our parents), but is not a paid vendor or consultant. We double checked our vendor system back to the year 2000, just to be sure."

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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