EUHS students, teachers protest scheduling change

By Katey Garrett

Students, teachers and parents raged against the Exeter Union High School District's Board of Trustees last week accusing them of eliminating popular programs and limiting student opportunities by changing the school's schedule.

The outrage comes before the trustees have even voted on what changes may be made with several different options to choose from. However, the district has established an ad hoc committee, consisting of representative teachers, instructional staff, students, parents and administrators and has approved to study the possibility of switching from the current schedule to an alternate schedule.

Currently, EUHS is on a 4×4 schedule, which seems to be favored by most students. The schedule is broken into two different semesters with four classes each semester, allowing students to take academic classes as well as courses geared towards their plans for college, military or vocation. This schedule also provides educators with a 90-minute prep period and sufficient time in each class for one-on-one learning with students.

Motivation for change has been driven by needed improvement on test scores and smaller class sizes. Six main objectives that will be studied by the ad hoc committee have been established and apply to all needed changes, standards and state requirements.

The six objectives include, establishing year-long learning for all students in selected core courses such as English and math, reducing class sizes and cost, maintaining academic requirements and goals, maintaining graduation requirements with the option of taking multiple elective courses, re-evaluating and modifying benchmarks and increasing opportunities for students to receive individual assistance on any given subject.

Exeter Union High School students rallied together in Joyner Park during lunch last Wednesday, where student body president Amanda Brooks informed her peers about the possibility of future schedule changes taking place. &#8220This change might have a negative effect,” said Brooks. &#8220We aren't making assumptions, as we are unsure of what the outcome will be, however, we do need to remain informed and educated about the possible change that our school faces today.”

As students applauded Brooks for her boldness and ability to speak the minds and hearts of so many, several of her peers voiced their opinions and concerns. &#8220I think this is pretty ridiculous,” said Lynn Gordon, who is an inter-district student and fears that a schedule change will include changes in the required standards for graduating. &#8220I am afraid that I will have to go back to Woodlake if the schedule changes.”

Brooks made sure to inform her peers that although they were able to rally together, it was only to be educated on the subject. &#8220This is not a protest,” explained Brooks. &#8220We are here, voicing our opinions, gaining support and becoming informed. We should keep an opened mind about this situation and support our opinions by attending the board meeting tonight.”

With concerns about extra-curricular classes, one-on-one time with teachers and homework overload, students, teachers and parents attended the Exeter Union High School's school board meeting Wednesday. &#8220If our schedule is changed, will the AG classes be cut short?” asked Brooks. &#8220We live in a farming community. How can we afford not to have agriculture classes?”

One by one, concerned community members stood in line for their turn at the microphone, where they each expressed their opinion and look to the board for answers. Several teachers expressed their concern about prep periods, lost positions and ongoing requirements that seem to overwhelm the educators of Exeter. &#8220We just want to teach,” said math teacher Jason Welch, who spoke after teacher Jim Mainwaring. &#8220Changing this schedule is going to hurt the teachers, students, administration, parents and community members,” said Mainwaring. &#8220Don't do this.”

As board members began to respond to the outcry of concerns, students stood silently with duct tape covering their mouths. &#8220We want the board to see that there are so many of us that are counted as percents and not as individual people. We are seen on paper as numbers and our voices are heard but rarely listened to,” said student Melissa Haun, who held a sign that read, ‘For Sale, My Future.'

Although the majority of the crowd was dissatisfied with the board's responses, an approved motion to change the schedule in 2008 instead of 2007 seemed to alleviate some pain in the hearts of community members. &#8220It isn't what we want,” said Haun, &#8220But it allows more time for research, input and re-consideration.”

Consideration is what the board says they have given to the idea of a schedule change. &#8220We need to come to an end point that the board can make a decision from,” said board member Mark Pascoe. &#8220We might end up coming to the conclusion that what we have now is working. Maybe after the committees research other schedules, we will see the light and come to a conclusion but we cannot lose sight of the reason we are here. This is for the students.”

In October of 2004, the board began discussion of alternative schedules, which evolved into several study sessions and roundtable meetings, leading to the board meeting last Thursday, when the decision was made to change or modify the current schedule. In May of 2005, the Planning Advisory Committee recommended that the 4×4 schedule be retained and in August 2006, Don Brinkman reviewed the schools goals, which determined if the schedule needed to be changed.

As the ad hoc committee has been formed, several people have their hand and vice in a very important decision that may alter the world of academics at EUHS in either positive or negative ways. For more information regarding the schedule change or ad hoc committee, please contact Renee Whitson at 592-9421.

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