Union members at odds with effectiveness of school schedule | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Union members at odds with effectiveness of school schedule

The debate continues over the effectiveness of a new schedule at South Tahoe High School, with one representative of the teachers union saying a lawsuit against the district is being mulled.

Teacher and union representative Mike Patterson presented survey results to the Lake Tahoe School District Board of Trustees during a Tuesday meeting that outlined discomfort and confusion among high-school instructors.

The survey by the South Tahoe Educators Association and left in teachers’ mailboxes at the school presented several questions to teachers.

Inquiries included if they’re in favor of the new schedule (21 yes, 30 no), if it benefits their department (17 yes, 26 no, two both, seven unsure) and should more time be used before implementation (33 yes, 11 no, eight unsure).

“We have a lot of concerns that haven’t been addressed,” Patterson said.

Patterson also said the contract with high school teachers needs to be modified to better represent their job duties and working conditions before the start of the school year. In addition, the teachers union presented points of concern to the district that have yet to receive answers.

Patterson said the union is thinking about filing an unfair labor practice lawsuit against the school district.

“We always try to work through negotiations to try and work through the issues,” Patterson said. “Hopefully that will happen with the four-by-four (schedule) before school starts, but with our history with the district that may or may not happen.”

Teachers union President Carol Murdock said Patterson did not have the authority to speak for the union. The survey, she added, was taken in March, months after the decision was made to implement the schedule.

“They never got up and said anything,” Murdock said.

After two years of discussion on the schedule, teachers with questions should have used their time to collect information, Murdock said.

“Mike Patterson can say anything he wants as Mike Patterson, but he can’t speak for STEA. I’m the president and only I can speak for the union. You can put that in the paper,” she said.

Murdock said she supported both the schedule and the process, and said it was premature to consider any kind of lawsuit.

The new schedule is called the four-by-four since it has four classes for two terms during the school year. The school’s previous schedule has six classes throughout the year with three occurring in blocks every other day.

Karin Holmes and Korrine Butler, two parents of incoming freshmen, told the board they were concerned about how often their children took mathematics under the new schedule.

Counselor Michelle Riley said the math portion, as well as the foreign language and language arts, were still being worked on.

Administrators praise the four-by-four’s ability to help under-performing students with support classes and offer 15 more college-accepted courses beneficial to higher-achieving students.

Superintendent Jim Tarwater said surveys were distributed to faculty with favorable results on the schedule, which has been in the planning process for two years and approved in December by a unanimous board.

“I think people are a little nervous because there is a change, and people have the right to ask questions to get answers,” Tarwater said.

The schedule will be “continued to be refined to maximize the effectiveness” during the school year, Tarwater said.

School board President Wendy David said she has full confidence that the four-by-four will be better than the previous schedule.

“I am excited about it,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what results it will bring for our kids.”

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