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Mingus to debate block scheduling again
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 00:00

For the sixth time since the topic was introduced during budget discussions earlier this year, Mingus Union High School District Governing Board will consider the daily, six-period class schedule introduced for the 2010-11 school year at its regular 6:30 p.m. meeting Thursday, Sept. 9.

Kylee Heflin, a Mingus Union High School sophomore, right, discusses the pros and cons of the new six-period class schedule with her friend, sophomore Ashleigh MaKuchy.The switch from a schedule that allowed students to take four, 80-minute blocks each semester to a daily class scheduled comprised of six, 60-minute classes, continues to cause controversy nearly 30 days into the school year.

On a four-block schedule, students could receive eight credits per year. Under the new system, six credits may be earned per year, according to Superintendent Tim Foist.

The new system also means some students must arrive at class by 6:30 a.m. The early schedule probably contributed to a decline in enrollment in Heather Mulcaire’s senior agriculture class, among career technology classes, Mulcaire said.

“We officially registered 196 kids on the National FFA roster last school year. This year our enrollment is down to 160,” Mulcaire said.

Math teacher Craig Mai said the new schedule means teachers must change they way they organize the material they wish to cover in a single class, but there are advantages.

Under the block schedule, students could opt out of taking math for one semester, which they usually did, Principal Tamara Addis said. That means they were not actively working in a math class when Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards is administered.

Mai said students who were enrolled in math for a full year, including the period in which AIMS tests were administered, performed better than students who did not study math during the testing period.

Mulcaire and Mai said the new schedule has required students and teachers to adjust.

“It’s not like we decided to change the class schedule for no reason,” Foist said. “It was necessary to accomplish the $2 million in budget cuts we had to make this year.”

Previously, the board voted 3-2 to go to the six-period schedule. Board Chairman John Tavasci and members Jim Ledbetter and Brenda Zenan voted in favor, and Andy Groseta and Mike Mulcaire voted against. Groseta and Mulcaire asked the item be again added to the Sept. 9 agenda.

Foist said the new schedule allows MUHS to maintain all of its programs, including music, physical education and art despite a loss of 14 teachers in the past two years. A return to the block schedule would require the district to hire additional teachers or cut programs, he said.

In addition, switching back to a block schedule 30 days into the school year would cause MUHSD to lose all of the state funding it received based on enrollment between the first day of school and the day the block schedule is reinstated.

Foist, who has a record of creating career technology programs at other school districts he administered in the past, said he fully supports the MUHS CTE programs and regrets the schedule change may be having an impact on some CTE enrollment.

“People come here because we have a well-rounded school,” Foist said. “People come here for CTE, but they also come here for P.E., music and the arts.”

The schedule change was introduced to preserve all programs, he said.

“We are one of the few, perhaps the only, school district which instead of cutting, actually added programs to the schedule,” Foist said.

 

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