Mansfield News

Parents concerned about schedules

Sixteen-year-old Carson Blodgett has had it with the eight-class schedule, and she -- and a lot of parents -- made that clear Monday night at the Mansfield school board meeting.

“It’s kind of giving me whiplash,” said Blodgett, who is a junior at Legacy High School. “I’m so stressed out. When I come home, I’m looking at three to four hours of homework.”

Blodgett, who moved to Mansfield a month ago from Portland, Ore., urged the school board to drop the eight 45-minute classes and go back to the AB block schedule -- four 1 1/2-hour classes per day that alternate -- which the district had previously and similar to the schedule Blodgett had at her private school in Portland.

“I’m getting Ds in some of my classes,” said Blodgett, who was a member of National Honor Society and taking all honors classes at her previous school. “Teachers make lesson plans, but not enough time to get through them.”

But any change to the master schedule doesn’t look likely to take effect in time to help Blodgett.

“In order to change this fall, registration would have to stop,” said Superintendent Jim Vaszauskas. “We would have to rework the Ben Barber schedule. Our registration is coordinated with the spring testing schedule. For a lot of students, the AB block would put them in a bind because athletics are double blocked (take up two class periods).”

The district is beginning a study of different types of schedules, said Cynthia McCallum, area superintendent for middle and high schools.

“With all the changes Texas education has gone through, it is prudent to look at the master schedule,” McCallum said.

The district is forming committees and focus groups of teachers, parents and students to look at different types of schedules for intermediate, middle and high schools, all of which are currently on the eight-period schedule, McCallum said. The study will look at many types of schedule models, possibly including the AB block, she said. And could mean different types of schedules for intermediate, middle and high school, McCallum said.

“It would seem having the same for middle and high school would be prudent,” she said.

The study should take until May, followed by a recommendation to the board in August, McCallum said. On this plan, any changes to the master schedule would not go into effect for the 2015-16 school year, she said.

Not good enough, said Mansfield parent Lisa Hudgins.

“A schedule change next year is necessary,” Hudgins told trustees. “Why should students continue to suffer? I am frustrated with the lack of action taken on this. You should have seen this coming for months. Putting things off for another year is not acceptable.”

Hudgins and Blodgett’s feelings were echoed 15 times by other speakers -- plus a pair of non-speakers -- who addressed the board Monday night. Parents, teachers and students stressed that 45-minute classes are not enough time for instruction, so many students wind up working until the early hours of the morning on homework. Others pointed out that the AB block schedule helps prepare students for college, where they will face a similar schedule.

“I hear what you’re saying,” Vaszauskas said, “but registration just can’t stop. We also have to give a voice to those who may not feel the same. There is also a monetary cost to this, $1.3 million (to implement) the AB block at the high schools.

“I’m not saying I’m opposed to the AB block because I’m not,” he said. “I do think the best approach is to hear about this. I want to learn. I want to know.”

Although the master schedule is an administrative decision, several board members urged the superintendent to move sooner to make the change to the AB block schedule.

Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451

Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM