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The Student News Site of Foothill Technology High School

The Foothill Dragon Press

The Student News Site of Foothill Technology High School

The Foothill Dragon Press

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Student Site Council holds second meeting on new bell schedule proposal

Taylor Schmidt
As the School Site Council (SSC) hosted the second meeting concerning the potential bell schedule change, students and teachers were able to join in and give public comments. Teachers focused on the emotional toll the current structure took on them, while members of meeting debated on prioritizing student interest. Neverless, Foothill Technology High School’s (Foothill Tech) student and staff are patiently waiting for the final decision of the potential bell schedule change for the 2024-2025 school year.

Following the proposal of matching bell schedules with Ventura Unified School District (VUSD)’s traditional high schools, the Student Site Council (SSC) held their second meeting over the issue on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, at 7:30 a.m. in Spirito Hall.

A large number of students and faculty attended, prompting Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) Principal Russell Gibbs to open the floor for public comment.

First to speak was Claire Adams, World History and Ethnic Studies and Social Justice teacher, opening with, “[Foothill Tech] staff have high blood pressure, we’re on anxiety medication, we’re depressed, we’re retiring early, we’re leaving. We are mentally and emotionally beaten up by this fight.”

Please give us this opportunity because it is life changing.

— Claire Adams

“This is the first time we have had a glimmer of hope … [VUSD has] finally acknowledged the inequity … so the caveat is you go to the same schedule,” she continued, emphasizing that, “they’re not two separate things, they have to go together.”

Yiu Hung Li, who teaches various classes and is the adviser for two programs, spoke next, “I think FIRE [Freshman Intervention Reinforcement and Enrichment Program] is a good thing, but we hold ¼ [freshmen] of our population … so that everyone can have an hour lunch.”

Explaining the effect the current schedule has on educators, he said, “What is not a perfect system is the fact that there are [program coordinators] that are being run to the ground. My partner [Kurt Miller] left our school because he felt like there wasn’t enough time [to prep].”

Imploring the council to vote yes to the change, Kristen Pelfrey, who has taught at Foothill Tech since its’ founding, urged them to, “Trust us as professionals who are experts in our fields and who do the work everyday, above and beyond, because everybody counts or nobody counts, and for too long, the teachers have been counted out.”

If we don’t implement [the schedule], massage and experiment, then our hands are tied.

— Mika Anderson

Mika Anderson, Director of the BioScience Academy, detailed her busy schedule and shared that, “I’m always transitioning from one thing to the next. I have never, ever put myself in a position where I’ve said no, it’s always been ‘yes, and?’”

She argued that the adoption of the new schedule would, “Give [Foothill Tech] staff the strength to negotiate for equity.”

Her BioScience Academy partner, Daniel Baker, expressed his disappointment with the time he currently has to prepare, “It’s getting to the point where I can only give tests because reading lab notebooks [and other comprehensive curriculum] is almost impossible.”

“I am unwilling to share or devote my outside time. I used to, and the second I felt I wasn’t valued or equal, that kind of burnt out in me,” he finished, referencing the cut of his coordination period.

Ariel Montejano ‘25, President of the SSC, said she had been told by Gina Wolowicz, Assistant Superintendent of VUSD Human Resources, that, “these [bell schedule and ‘Teach 5’] do not go hand in hand,” which was met with objections.

Adams countered, “Why would we change our schedule? This is what the union [Ventura Unified Education Association] has told us: the only chance [Foothill Tech] has is if you match our high schools.” She went on to say that if the district doesn’t give Foothill Tech teachers the “Teach 5” model, then they would not go forward with implementing the new schedule.

Kristin Ippolito, parent of Foothill Tech alumni and member of the SSC, expressed her concern that, “We just got the teachers’ perspective and we didn’t get enough students.”

If you take away FIRE, it’s gonna cause more harm than benefits to students.

— Kristin Ippolito

Gibbs stressed that the SSC was voting on, “the bell schedule here [Foothill Tech]. The five to seven is a negotiated item … it is too far ahead at this particular time. The council doesn’t have control over [five on seven], we have control over this.”

Montejano referenced her points for the negatives of the bell schedule change, emphasizing how this could impact education, “I know that, for instance, at Buena [High School], teachers who want students to redo a test, they will take a student out from another class … and that takes away time from other periods.”

“It’s a fallacy to think that everything can be done in the morning or after school if you take away FIRE,” Ippolito added, as well as, “This [school lunch] might be the only meal that students are getting. You can’t tell me you’re gonna get the whole entire student [body through the lunch line.]”

Gibbs said he feared miscommunication with the district, and that, “I hope my staff is not getting fed something again,” as he has experienced disappointment in negotiations.

“If we have the ability to get them one step closer, why would we not at least try it? They’re [teachers] not going to blindside us and change the schedule if they’re not getting what they want either,” Sarrah Barrios, SSC member, pointed out.

Ippolito shared that, “My job is from a student-parent perspective … I do respect and care for these teachers … we just have a different opinion on FIRE,” to which Montejano said, “We have to keep in mind, this is for students.”

Overall, the teachers of Foothill Tech shared the stress the current situation puts on them, and asked the council to approve the schedule so they would have leverage in negotiations with the district for the “Teach 5” issue. Members of the SSC were split, with some making it clear that the council is there to represent students, and to work in the best interest of students.

The vote was moved to Nov. 30 at 7:30 a.m., where the decision on whether or not to adopt the new bell schedule will be made, moving into the next step of Site Based Decision making.

Editor’s note: In addition to being a Foothill Tech teacher as stated in the article, Yiu Hung Li is also the faculty adviser of the Foothill Dragon Press. 

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About the Contributors
Ailanie Martinez, Assignment Editor
I may be short but everyone looks up to me.
Taylor Schmidt, Photographer
I'm a first-year photographer who enjoys spending time with my family, friends and sleeping in.

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