Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Questions around specific Alamosa High School (AHS) and Ortega Middle School (OMS) educators permitted a scheduling discussion to take place behind closed doors, according to Alamosa Board of Education (ABOE) officials.
ABOE official Keith Vance said in an email the Monday, March 18 ABOE discussion was held in an executive session to “explore staffing issues.”
“In my opinion, the topic of the bell schedule at AHS does not warrant executive session, in a vacuum,” Vance wrote. “However, AHS and OMS share staff... Schedule changes at AHS affect whether they can continue teaching at OMS unless OMS adopts the same schedule because the timing classes would not align for them to run back and forth.”
Colorado Sunshine Laws state executive sessions are limited to matters which state or federal law require be kept confidential, including confidential records; security arrangements; property matters; attorney conferences; negotiations; personnel; and to discuss individual students. No adoption of any rule, regulation, policy, position or formal action shall occur at any meeting closed to the public.
“...Before we could adopt the schedule change, we had to figure out if we could add the staff needed to OMS to make it all work,” Vance wrote. “The schedule change really wasn’t a topic of executive session except how it was or was not possible, following the staffing discussion... I’m a big believer in being open about discussions, but staffing is reserved for executive for obvious reasons, especially in a small town.”
Alamosa School District Superintendent Rob Alejo said in an email his recommendation to discuss the AHS schedule in an executive session was based on it “possibly affecting staffing patterns next year,” making it a “personnel consideration.”
The six-member ABOE was contacted via email to comment on the executive session, but only Vance and Christine Haslett responded in addition to Alejo.
On Monday, the ABOE unanimously approved the 30 to eight AHS teacher supported block schedule after the executive session concluded. 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.
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.
AHS teachers who spoke in favor of the schedule change Monday night in the open meeting said it could increase test scores and create more student contact time.
Only one teacher raised a concern, which took into consideration OMS and Alamosa Elementary teachers that would not see an increase in planning time, making the change inequitable.