It’s official. Manteca High School will be on block scheduling starting the 2015-2016 school year.
Members of the Board of Trustees gave their stamp of approval to the recommendation during Tuesday night’s meeting by a unanimous vote.
“Block (system) is definitely the way to go,” said Life Skills and Health teacher Gross whose confidence stems from the fact she spent 18 years, prior to moving to Manteca High this year, at Sierra High where block scheduling has been the norm for many years.
“So I’ve seen both sides,” she said of having taught at a school where block schedule was the norm, and teaching under the traditional setting at Manteca High.
Under block scheduling, students will have fewer classes – four periods at 90 minutes each class – instead of six periods each lasting 55 minutes. That means students will have more opportunity to enroll in Advance Placement and elective classes, explained Gross who, with fellow teacher Carey Simoni, gave the presentation to the board as to how Manteca High staff, teachers, parents, and students arrived at the decision to adopt block scheduling. When it came down to the vote on the recommendation, 64 percent said yes and 25 percent responded, “I don’t care.”
There are several advantages to block scheduling, Gross said. For one thing, it’s less stressful for teachers when compared to teaching under the traditional schedule of six classes a day.
With the longer hours per class, there is bonding established between the teacher and students. In contrast, with the class lasting only 55 minutes, “you’re rushing,” Gross pointed out.
Block scheduling is more relaxing, and it builds relationships, she said.
With Manteca High coming on board the block academic scheduling, that leaves only two traditional secondary campuses that are still following the traditional track – East Union and Weston Ranch in Stockton. However, there’s already a move afoot to get them into the block system and that discussions about that possibility are continuing, said Superintendent Jason Messer.
be.tech Academy, Manteca Unified’s public vocational charter school, operates under a different type of block scheduling. The program offers vocational programs for students in their junior and high school years which allows them to receive their high school diploma and vocational certificate at the same time when they graduate.
One issue that will need to be worked out as Manteca High gears up for the scheduling change will involve additional staffing. Messer said Manteca High Principal Frank Gonzales and Senior Director of Secondary Education Clara Schmiedt have had talks about it. Hiring the two additional teachers will translate to roughly $200,000 a year.
However, Messer pointed out that Lathrop High and Sierra High both went through this same staffing problem and so far, both have managed to implement the scheduling program without any additional hiring.