Students hurriedly walk during passing period. (Photo by Andrew Hsieh)

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Fountain Valley High School teachers vote out block schedule option

Fountain Valley teachers voted in favor of the traditional schedule in accordance with the teacher contract that requires a renewed vote on the bell every four years.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/btnguyen151/" target="_self">Brandon Nguyen (Student FVHS)</a>

Brandon Nguyen (Student FVHS)

November 19, 2021
Fountain Valley High School teachers have officially voted to consider only a traditional bell schedule as part of the process to create a new schedule that will begin next school year. Out of 132 eligible voters, 51 voted to only consider the traditional bell schedule, while 44 voted to consider both traditional and block.

Fountain Valley’s student newspaper, Baron News, sent a survey to FVHS teachers asking whether or not they voted to consider a block schedule and to hear the reasons for their vote.

FVHS teacher Douglas Flint voted for a block schedule because of the experience with his children.

“The input I get from my two daughters in the district is that they appreciate not having homework for four through six classes every night,” Flint said. “I have taught on block before and I enjoyed it. For special education, the longer block time is better for meetings and getting paperwork done.”

Psychology teacher Gina Carbone disagreed, saying that it would be beneficial for developing students’ skills.

“I want to see my students each day, and I think the structure of traditional [schedule] is better for their time management,” Carbone said.

According to their contract with the district, teachers have to vote on the bell schedule every four years and the 2021-2022 year is a voting year. Furthermore, in October 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed California Bill 328 that obligated California high schools to start classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and would go into effect in 2022.

Visual art teacher Tony Pash expressed skepticism about whether the late start time would be beneficial to high school students because school would end later as a result.

“I don’t think it will benefit high school students who typically manage their own sleep times.  An extra 30 minutes to get to school for high school students means an extra 30 minutes to stay up later meaning they will most likely get the same amount of sleep,” Pash said. “I think it will end up feeling like they are staying on campus more and less time at home or doing other activities, making the days feel busier, especially for those who have extracurricular activities after school.

Two committees made up of FVHS teachers are responsible for creating the new schedule — the Bell Schedule and Process Committee. The Process Committee begins by determining the timeline and procedures teachers will follow to create and decide on a bell schedule.

So far, the Process Committee has convened twice and sent out a staff and student survey.

Math teacher Shannon Atkins, who heads both committees, explains that the Bell Schedule Committee uses the staff’s survey to create tentative schedules for teachers to vote on after Thanksgiving break.

“The final vote must take place on or before May 1 but we expect to be ready for it much sooner,” Atkins said. “[It] will include two traditional schedule options and a majority will decide which we use next year.”

Students also responded to the survey, marking a deviation from the typical decision-making process. Traditionally, student opinions do not factor into bell schedule changes, like when the nine-minute passing period schedule was adopted in 2018.

However, 1,891 students — over half of the student body — responded to the newly-introduced survey that took student opinion into account.

“Students are the ones that have to go through the day the way they do, so it’s important that they get to choose or at least have an input [on the bell schedule decision],” said Fountain Valley senior Muna Naseer.

Fountain Valley sophomore Riley Bridges also voiced her support for the move to include students in the surveying process.

“Whatever [schedule] the students learn best [with] should probably be an influence on what bell schedule we have,” Bridges said. “If the majority of students think we shouldn’t have a [block] schedule, then that should be a strong consideration in making [the schedule].”

Bridges, who supports the traditional schedule, was in the 67.5% majority of student survey participants who voiced a preference for a traditional schedule.

What students can do 

Teachers can expect another survey emailed to them from the bell schedule committee around next week. Students can voice their opinions by writing letters to the editors at baronnews.com at fvhsbaronbanner@gmail.com and conversing with their teachers.

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