School board to discuss replacing block schedule

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Half a decade after its adoption, block scheduling at Clovis High School may be replaced by the system it replaced.

Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said she is considering a return to the six-period day at the high school. Block scheduling currently carves the Clovis High School year into two semesters, with each school day divided into four, 90-minute periods.

School board members and high school administrators will discuss the schedules at this evening’s school board meeting, though the decision on whether to revert back to a traditional schedule rests with Seidenwurm, according to school policy.

“I really need to study this, and as a board member keep an open mind, but it is a decision she (Seidenwurm) has to make,” said board member Max Best.

Scrutiny of block scheduling existed prior to Seidenwurm’s gaze. But as the district comes face to face with a projected $1.7 million budget deficit for the year 2006-2007, the superintendent has pushed a series of cost-cutting measures, including the recently approved merger of Bella Vista Elementary School with Lincoln-Jackson Arts Academy.

Seidenwurm said block scheduling is expensive and ineffective. Clovis High School students, she said, received higher college entrance exam scores under the traditional schedule.

“Not only have we not made any improvement (in high school student performance), we’ve lost ground,” Seidenwurm said.

Proponents of the block schedule, however, are manifold. They include leagues of teachers and students.

Sophomore Lizz Ochoa said classroom and extra-curricular conversations often center on the possible schedule change. She said she would be upset if traditional, shorter class times were adopted.

“Everyone is really disturbed because, most likely, the only reason the school is going to do this is to save money. We thought education was more important than money,” Ochoa said. The block schedule, she said, allows her to cram in more college prep courses since eight classes, rather than six, can be fit into a school year.

As for teachers, many at Clovis High School say the 90-minute planning period under the block schedule affords them valuable planning time.

Clovis High School girl’s basketball coach Miles Watters said the block schedule provides an essential balance for athletes. They use the 90-minute period for sports practice or weight training during off-seasons.

“Practice later in the evening would cut away from time with family and school work… The teachers and the students are really satisfied with block schedules,” Watters said.