Editorial: The removal of coordinating periods and its lasting effect on the Foothill community

On Sept. 6, 2022, the Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) administration put the decision to cut coordinating periods for special program advisers into effect. The decision was announced after a mass scheduling error occurred school wide and as a result, a quarter of the student body was forced to undergo scheduling changes two weeks after receiving their initial schedules. Coordinating periods are specially approved sections in which the advisers of major academies such as BioScience and DTech are given dedicated, paid time during school hours to organize additional curriculum and extracurricular activities—aspects that are vital to these academies and simply cannot be organized during non-school hours. 

Last spring, administration approved the master schedule for the 2022-2023 school year based on two factors: total student enrollment and the anticipated number of class allotments necessary to accommodate those students. Somewhere in the process, the numbers were grossly miscalculated and Foothill Tech faculty and students returned to campus only to find their classes either critically overcrowded or suspiciously empty. 

Freshman classes specifically took the brunt of this monumental error and as a result, the BioScience and DTech advisers were stripped of their coordinating periods for the first time in Foothill Tech history in order to teach additional periods of these freshman courses, Health and Biology. 

The repercussions of this decision will undoubtedly affect students for years to come. The academies that distinguish Foothill Tech as the #14 Best Magnet High School in California and the #118 Best Public High School in California require hours upon hours of time each week to maintain. However, because advisers Mika Anderson and Kurt Miller were denied their coordinating period and forced to acquire an additional academic class, the academies will no longer offer opportunities such as job shadows, student leadership, certifications or Entree to Employment. In addition, both academies offer career technical education (CTE) courses and are funded by grants that require annual data, but the status of both could be jeopardized if time is not properly reallocated to programs as it has always been until this year.

Following the announcement of this decision the Foothill Tech student body, members and supporters of both academies were furious — and rightfully so. For starters, the cause for the removal of coordinating periods is a direct result of administrative error, yet no official apology has been released to the general public, but rather a continued, illogical justification that lacks accountability and empathy. Although steps are being taken in a positive direction, they are rather short-term oriented and unsustainable to the well-being of Foothill Tech. The impeccably passionate and driven student body of our school will now suffer the consequences continuously over an instantaneous, avoidable mistake.

Additionally, because solutions have only risen after such a period of time since the initial removal, a limited number of actions can actually be taken towards achieving what was originally expected. As we find ourselves further and further into the school year, the likelihood of necessary change being facilitated lessens. How can students be expected to have their schedules changed yet again due to the administration’s unwillingness to act? 

To put it simply, removing the time that allows students to positively participate in the opportunities they were promised upon acceptance to Foothill Tech without any condolences is an undeserved and undignified insult.

Additionally, the ultimate decision reeks of ignorance on behalf of the administration. They showed blatant disregard for the established precedent without considering the potential consequences for the students they aim to serve. By removing coordinating periods, they implied that the extracurricular aspect of BioScience and DTech do not matter, but when has education ever been solely limited to the classroom? Foothill Tech is regarded as an institution that successfully prepares students for a future of their choice, whether it includes a higher education or introduction into the workforce. This regard lies in the potency of the academies, and if removed, makes the very idea of Foothill Tech nearly obsolete. 

Those who help to determine our future post-Foothill want to see more than just a high grade-point average — they want to see a purpose outside of the classroom. After all, what is the goal of BioScience and DTech if not to educate students through career-technical methodology? Without appropriating time to advisers who quite literally created their academies from the ground up, the significance of these programs will be diminished, causing both current and future students to suffer as a result. From the moment of their decision, administration set off a chain reaction, inevitably leading to a change in Foothill Tech’s nature for the foreseeable future.

BioScience and DTech are dependent on their life outside the classroom. These academies foster community, professional networking and most importantly, student identity. High school is meant to be an era of personal growth and discovery, with the academies never failing to accomplish just that. The stories that students will tell of their respective journeys to success will not be centered around the 90-minute allotted block of class time — they will be of their experiences outside of that period. 

The essence of Foothill Tech lies in its specialty pathways and academies. These programs, as well as their advisers, cannot thrive without the support and respect of the Ventura Unified School District (Ventura Unified) and Foothill Tech administrators. As we, the Editorial Review Board of the Foothill Dragon Press, see it: the academies of Foothill are highly unlikely to ever be the same as they once were unless the coordinator periods are rightfully returned.

 

Editorials reflect a majority opinion of the 11-person Editorial Review Board and are written collaboratively.

What do you think?