Students advocate for schedule change

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta High School student body president Chad Oliver addresses trustees at the Siskiyou Union High School District meeting last week in protest of the current schedule. A large group of students attended the meeting to say the rotating block schedule is confusing, and because some weeks they won’t see a teacher for five straight days, they believe it is detrimental to their education.

Usually only a handful of people attend Siskiyou Union High School District board meetings, but it was standing room only last Wednesday in Weed High School’s library.

The room was filled with Mount Shasta High School students who came to express their dissatisfaction with the rotating block schedule implemented this year.

“We recognize the reason [the schedule] was put in place, but this year got off to a rough start,” said MSHS student body president Chad Oliver to board members John Hines, Joe Blevins, Sue Tavalero, Lori Harch, Linda Wallace, Margaret DeBortoli and Jay Clark.

“I’ve talked with the student body, and the vast majority believe the schedule is detrimental to our education and needs to be changed,” Oliver said.

Though superintendent Mike Matheson agreed to change the schedule, he said because of logistical reasons, it probably won’t happen until the end of the semester, which is eight weeks away.

The schedule provides for longer class periods and the sharing of resources between district schools during these tough economic times, Matheson explained.

Students visit half of their classes one day, and the other half the next, allowing more opportunities for students to attend college courses and classes at other SUHSD sites. It also helps scheduling for teachers who travel between Mount Shasta, McCloud, Weed and Jefferson high schools.

Though there are benefits to the schedule, students say the drawbacks far outweigh them.

Sophomore Tess Abbot pointed out that the schedule is particularly difficult for those who play sports and miss classes to travel to away games.

“If you’re absent, you won’t attend that class for seven straight days,” she said. “This makes it really difficult.”

Senior James Crossen pointed out that 30 students travel between schools, and probably two thirds of the MSHS student population play sports.

Senior Sawyer Ducharme said the schedule was created to benefit those traveling for elective courses, but core classes and AP classes are adversely affected.

Though teachers Mariah Goodrich-Jones and Sue Villarreal said they did not motivate the students to show up at the meeting, they agree that the schedule is far too confusing and doesn’t provide for educational continuity.

Board member Sue Tavalero, who is also a Weed High School parent, said she agrees it’s confusing, but thought that things “would work themselves out.”

“I don’t even know where my kids are going during the day,” she said.

Matheson said because of commitments to employees who travel, there will need to be some advanced notice of the changes.

“This will be an administrative decision, and it will be brought back to the board within the next two weeks,” said Matheson. Though Villarreal said she’s glad the schedule will be changed, she urged the board to do it as soon as possible “before we lose struggling students.”

“We want to keep them enrolled and not lose them to charter schools,” she said.

Goodrich-Jones pointed out that 50 percent of all freshmen received deficiency notices in at least one class. She believes that is a direct result of the schedule.

“I’m a bright, educated individual, and I can’t figure it out,” she said with a laugh.

“Eight weeks is a long time to continue with kids who are already struggling.”