Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Ways of the past are resurfacing at Alamosa High School to pave way for a better future.
On Monday night, the Alamosa Board of Education (ABOE) unanimously approved a 30 to eight AHS teacher supported block schedule after an executive session. The main reason to change the daily regiment from seven periods to a schedule mixing extended and shorter classes is to provide teachers with more planning time, which was lost three years ago.
“Schools that are successful aren’t using seven periods,” said AHS social studies teacher Andy Lavier during the meeting’s open session. “...We are asking for what is normal and what is adequate. Ask the students. I have heard them say they wish they could go back.”
The approved schedule will have students in seven 53-minute period classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesdays, students will have four 85-minute class periods with a 37-minute access period in the morning. On Wednesdays, students will have three 85-minute periods and a 37-minute access period before being released at 2 p.m., only if the 2013-2014 calendar includes a Professional Learning Community (PLC) on those afternoons. Lunch is scheduled for 40 minutes daily.
The access period will allow students to meet with teachers for extra help, permit each counselor to meet with their 280 students to meet ICAP (Individual Career and Academic Plans) requirements and provide students extra time to complete homework or study.
The calendar, which has caused controversy amongst some Alamosa School District parents, is on the ABOE April 8 agenda for approval.
According to the new AHS schedule, teachers will teach five of seven periods, leaving the remaining two for planning; students will have a class for 234 minutes per week compared to the 252 minutes currently; and planning time will increase to 488 minutes a week versus 252 minutes.
“I think it’s important for teachers to have more planning time for our students,” said AHS social studies teacher Shawn Cody. “I think our students deserve the best teaching they can get.”
AHS English teacher Maxine Baker added, “Please help us do our job... Help our kids succeed better.”
She also noted extended periods would help teachers meet honors and AP (advanced placement) student needs and improve TCAP (Transitional Colorado Assessment Program) preparation.
“We can’t practice unless it is really short,” Baker said specifically about TCAP timed writing lessons. “A longer class would allow us to navigate through that process.”
Later during the open session, Alamosa Education Association (AEA) President Patti Kruger spoke on behalf of the Ortega Middle School (OMS) and Alamosa Elementary (AE) teachers who are not scheduled to see additional planning periods in the coming year.
“It is not equitable,” Kruger said. “I’m trying to look at the big picture.”
She asked the board to ensure this step was the first towards creating more planning time for all.
“It is important that message gets to all of the teachers,” Kruger said.
At press time, it was not known why the new AHS schedule was discussed in an executive session. The ABOE members were contacted via email, but did not respond and did not confirm if the AHS schedule
was considered a personnel issue.
Construction contract signed
The board also approved contracts with the G.E. Johnson Construction Company and Sage Construction to build the district’s new athletic complex and vo/ag building estimated to cost $5 million.
According to the Sage Construction contract, the La Jara-based firm will be the owner’s representative and receive $23,000 over a nine month construction and design schedule.
Before any job begins, however, the Alamosa City Council must approve the construction plans. If there is no opposition, some permits should be in hand on April 8 with site activity beginning immediately, according to G.E. Johnson reports. Full-blown construction is anticipated to hit the AHS campus shortly after April 17 when both state and city permits should be in place.
In April, planned construction work includes sod stripping; field and track earthwork; track concrete work; playing surface grading; building foundations; and masonry and street work, according to G.E. Johnson reports. The company will fence off the area to keep people, especially students, off of the property and implement an erosion control system and runoff protection.
Based on the G. E. Johnson project design overview, the $3.6 million athletic complex will sit just north of AHS, and the vo/ag building to the southwest across Carroll Street.