School officials debate 4-by-4 schedule | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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School officials debate 4-by-4 schedule

William Ferchland

Saying the current schedule is inadequate in meeting students’ needs, a team from South Tahoe High School presented their case for a different class makeup to the district’s decision makers.

The proposed four-by-four schedule would increase electives, boost graduation requirements, offer more remedial classes, provide another chance for failing students to retake a class and reward students with an early out if they have good grades and test scores.

The structure of the four-by-four schedule is four classes every school day for one term and another four classes in the second term. This year’s schedule has six classes throughout the school year with three classes every other day.

But there were questions regarding the proposed schedule such as the cost of additional textbooks, teaching assignments and efficiency of the schedule, which is aimed for implementation next school year.

Mike Patterson, chair of the political action committee for the teachers union and auto shop teacher at the high school, posed several of those questions to the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education at the onset of Thursday’s morning meeting.

Regarding students in advanced placement classes, Patterson wondered about students who would take a class in the first term, only having to wait months before taking the test in May.

“We all know that’s not the best way to deliver instruction,” Patterson said.

South Tahoe High School Principal Marcia Kaster noted the four-by-four isn’t perfect, but said the efficient way to iron out potential wrinkles is to implement the schedule and tackle them head on.

“Is it going to work 100 percent? We don’t know,” Kaster said.

Administrators and teachers at the school worked on the proposal last year. Reports and updates were presented at past board meetings. Students and staff were surveyed.

Nine teachers disliked the schedule, 47 embraced it and 18 were unsure but wanted to go forward with it, according to Kaster.

Projections anticipate 75 additional classes for remedial or elective purposes. Teaching levels will be kept the same, meaning no additional staff costs, and state funds could provide funding for textbooks in remedial courses.

As far as electives, charges can be instituted, such as lab fees for science courses.

One disadvantage of the every-other-day classes the high school has now is the potential of students missing classes and not being seen until almost a week has passed, English instructor Janna Gard said.

The four-by-four schedule would increase the credits required for graduation, from 220 for the class of 2007 to 280 for the class of 2010. Most of the increase would come from electives.

In addition, a new Viking seminar class would teach freshman about technology and how to succeed as a high school student, the team said. Another class would teach seniors about buying a home and maintaining good credit.

“I have to say I’m very impressed with that part,” board member Sue Novasel said.

The board assigned the issue to Tuesday’s meeting agenda for more discussion and possible action.


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