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The Foothill Dragon Press

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School Site Council votes against bell schedule changes for the 2024-2025 school year

Rihanna Samples
While students mull around during their hour-long lunch, staff members are reminded of a huge inequity between Foothill Technology High School’s (Foothill Tech) schedule compared to those of Ventura High School (Ventura) and Buena High School (Buena): the lack of hours to prepare for class due to the significant more time Foothill Tech teachers spend with students. With the School Site Council (SSC) planning to meet on Nov. 30, 2023, to vote on the potential of switching Foothill Tech’s schedule to 100-minute class periods, thus shortening the lunch period while also allowing the teacher’s more preparation time, Foothill Tech staff waited to hear the results. With the final result of six votes of no and five of yes, the new schedule was not passed and teachers are left with the question of what comes next.

On Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, at 7:30 a.m. in Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech)’s conference room, the School Site Council (SSC) voted against a proposed change to the bell schedule for the 2024-2025 academic year.

While the majority of the SSC anonymously voted no, the ballots were close, with five votes in favor of the bell schedule change and six against it.

With the vote being tight, members of Foothill Tech faculty have voiced their worries about the results of the election. One major concern was the vote’s potential impact on the “Teach 5” model that various staff members hope to get granted in the future.

Dianne Fergus stated, “We have been guided to believe that if our schedule were to match Buena [High School] and Ventura [High School]’s that the school district would be more likely to grant the five of seven change,” explaining why some members of the staff weren’t content with the results of the voting.

While the election results may have an impact on the “Teach 5” changes, Fergus is still optimistic for more negotiating, she expressed, “I’m hopeful that its not the end of our ability to ask for teachers to be able to teach five of seven in negotiations.”

Similarly, Principal Russell Gibbs suggested to the SSC that there’s still potential for a “Teach 5” model, commenting that, “I know that this can still go to negotiations for the five of seven [change]. I know the hope was that [the proposed schedule] would have a bit more leverage with that [district negotiations],” concluding that, “there’s still some hope for the teacher’s progress with the schedule changes.”

Ariel Montejano ‘25, President of the SSC, spoke on what the decision will mean for Foothill Tech, sympathizing with both perspectives on the decision. Montejano claimed, “Positively, we still have our schedule … if we changed to the other schedule there would be a lot of negatives.”

Weighing in on the negative impact the vote may impose, Montejano communicated, “The negatives if we’re staying to this schedule is teachers are not being [listened to by] the school district,” going on to say, “I think that’s gonna lead teachers to possibly leaving next year.”

Many teachers at Foothill Tech were unhappy with the outcome of the vote and declined to comment. However, Emily Hunt, Physics and Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science teacher, voiced her opinion on the subject, saying, “I have a mixed feeling because I didn’t really want to teach that long of blocks. I feel like after a certain point we all kind of lose our attention span.”

On the other hand, Hunt also added, “However, I think that it does get a little complicated as teachers would like to teach five instead of six classes and have a schedule that’s more similar, or is the same, as Buena [High School] and Ventura [High School].”

I think all sides came to the table with pure intentions to support our school.

— Katie Tedford

In discussing the rationale behind the SSC’s vote of not implementing a new bell schedule, Hunt mentioned that, “I feel like the decision was based on two major factors. One was that students enjoy benefits from FIRE [Freshman Intervention Reinforcement and Enrichment Program]. They don’t always enjoy it, but it’s helpful, and then the other was that some students want the ability to go off campus during lunch.”

Aware that the vote might cause dissatisfaction, particularly among teachers, Assistant Principal Katie Tedford concluded the SSC meeting with a public comment, expressing gratitude to everyone involved and emphasizing the core purpose of the SSC. She said, “Everyone at this table has really put a lot into this process and I think no matter how the vote went today, we are going to move forward and support our kids.”

Overall, the vote against the proposed bell schedule will continue to be a topic of discussion for teachers and staff members at Foothill Tech. There is still hope among many staff to advocate for the “Teach 5” model. In the meantime, Foothill Tech’s schedule will remain the same, with FIRE and 90-minute class periods remaining unchanged.

Editor’s note: In the original publication of the article, it was stated that teachers at Foothill Tech lacked “personal time” to match the time for preparation that teachers of Ventura and Buena are allotted. This phrasing was misleading and was corrected on Dec. 2, 2023, to clarify the purpose of the SSC vote. 

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About the Contributors
Maggie Lay, Reporter
I am a junior news writer who enjoys spending time with family, baking and going to petting zoos.
Ella Asher, Reporter
A junior who loves the ocean and chai lattes.
Rihanna Samples, Multimedia Editor
A junior who is constantly looking at the world through the lens of a camera.

Comments (5)

Comments on articles are screened and those determined by editors to be crude, overly mean-spirited or that serve primarily as personal attacks will not be approved. The Editorial Review Board, made up of 11 student editors and a faculty adviser, make decisions on content.
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  • M

    Mika AndersonDec 4, 2023 at 7:04 pm

    I understand the reason for the SSC vote and why parents and students would want to keep the bell schedule the same. I urge you to not let it end here.

    If we truly support equity for teachers, please take the NEXT STEP, mobilize and be our voices. Speak and make public comments at school board meetings, email/call our Superintendent (Dr. Castro) as well as Assistant Superintendant (Dr. Bayless.)

    Teachers are not asking for a “free” period. They are asking for an additional prep period that the Teach 5 model makes available at VHS/BHS. Help us bring the message back to the district. Wouldn’t it be grand if we were able to move to a Teach 5 model AND keep our schedule with the FIRE support system? Let’s work together to make this happen.

    • B

      Ben BarnettDec 5, 2023 at 1:51 pm

      I agree with this whole heartedly. I know that I will be talking about it with my friends and parents as much as possible, and I encourage everyone to do the same.

    • K

      Kristin IppolitoDec 5, 2023 at 5:07 pm

      Agree with you 100% Mrs. Anderson.
      I contacted VUSD and the school board supporting teacher equity.
      Please know I support you in this manner.
      I just did not support the bell schedule change.

  • B

    Ben BarnettDec 3, 2023 at 7:30 pm

    I, as a student, can’t possibly know how intricate and difficult this whole system and issue is. I do know however that I am extremely grateful for our schedule remaining the same. I think the next step is to band together to urge the district to grant our beloved staff the Teach 5 model. I am absolutely sure that it is possible to achieve that without destroying many of the positives our current schedule delivers to the student body. I love my teachers and all the other staff here so much, and I really genuinely hope a positive outcome for all sides can be achieved.

  • K

    Kristin IppolitoDec 2, 2023 at 2:04 pm

    As I said previously, I strongly support the argument of teacher equity but I can not support the bell change. I speak for many parents and students. In addition, I am coming from a public health nurse/ nurse practitioner perspective and have multiple concerns.

    The reasons I voted no on November 30 include the following:

    • A 100 minute class is very long. Most students of this age group can not concentrate this length of time, and should not be expected to do so.

    • The extended 10 minute class period is not sufficient time to help individuals with their questions and help on school work, nor will many students take advantage of this opportunity, because of the long class time and the entire class being present.

    • There is no allocated time during the class day for those mandated to attend intervention due to poor performance.

    • Make up tests for athletes are during FIRE and there is no alternate plan. After school is not even feasible with sports occurring at this time.

    • The academies meet during FIRE- what will happen to these programs?

    • The wellness center is being used during lunch by many students. I don’t agree that they will use it during the day during class time as that adds another stress if they miss class.

    • The cafeteria is not efficient on Mondays, and students only have a few minutes to eat, this will be the new norm daily and simply not enough time for students to get lunch. One in four in Ventura County are hungry and for some this is their main meal for the day.

    • We are in a mental health crisis. One in five youths have a mental health diagnosis such as anxiety and depression. I do not support less time during lunch and Fire. I argue they need more time even if it’s to socialize with their peers. Relationships are built, problems are solved, and it fosters a sense of belonging when kids can just be.

    In closing, I hope you know I put a lot of time into my decision. I spoke with many students both current and past, families and teachers. I did my best. My decision does not mean that I don’t value and appreciate Foothill teachers. In fact, it’s the opposite.
    Kristin Ippolito RN, PHN, NP, MSN

    SSC parent representative