May 25, 1996 in Washington Voices

Skepticism Reigns At Hearing On 4-Period Day

Marny Lombard Staff Writer

Applause erupted after Thursday evening’s first speaker, parent Doug Nowell, spoke against the controversial proposal for a four-period school day.

More determined applause sounded after the second speaker, parent Dean Grafos, who was for the four-period day.

Central Valley School Board chairman Cynthia McMullen would have none of it. She swiftly dismantled the applause meter, urging members of the audience to simply hear each other out.

Applause or not, by the close of the meeting it was clear that the majority of parents at the hearing were skeptical of the plan.

About 135 people attended the hearing, half of them teachers. Comments from parents against the plan outnumbered comments from parents in support, three to one. Comments from teachers uniformly supported the plan.

The school board took no action, but is expected to vote on the proposal at its regular meeting June 10.

Active CV parent Layne Hinckley captured the sense of divisiveness when he spoke.

“My concern is not for the four-period day or the six-period day, but whether we can have a united concern for education,” Hinckley said.

“By the clapping, it’s clear we do have a divided community. My plea to the board is to consider a plan to allow greater community involvement. Consider, even, the West Valley (partial block) plan,” he said.

Hinckley also acknowledged that parental involvement had come too little, too late.

Teachers at University High School have researched block schedules during the last six years. They support the plan as a way to create more active learning, involve more technology and ease stress for students and teachers

U-Hi biology teacher Bob Bartlett said he started incorporating computers and CD-ROMs four years ago. He supplements lectures with computer graphics and QuickTime movies.

Bartlett pleaded for the longer classes to do labs that involve “more than dissecting half a frog.”

Critical parents attacked the plan on several fronts, including these:

Scheduling problems would cost music students other electives.

The trimester would synchronize sports playoffs and academic finals, facing athlete-scholars with a double whammy.

Research shows no improvement in test scores for students on block schedules.

, DataTimes

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