School Board approves Gunn’s new schedule; examines minority achievement solutions

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    The PAUSD Board of Education prepares to discuss the implementation of a block schedule for Gunn High School at the Board meeting yesterday evening. The implementation would result in block periods and tutorials twice a week. Photo by Aidan Maese-Czeropski.

    The Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education unanimously approved a creative bell schedule for Gunn High School and viewed a presentation addressing the district’s minority achievement gap at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. yesterday evening.

    The new bell schedule will come into effect at Gunn beginning in the 2015-16 school year. After the Board watched a presentation by the Creative Bell Committee, listened to parent speakers and discussed its implementation, the Board voted 5-0 for its implementation.

    “They [the Committee] were very powerful and very good spokespersons,” School Board member Camille Townsend said.

    The committee first began meeting several months ago to discuss changing the schedule from the original seven-period day. They came up with a block period day to reduce the stress of staff and students.

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    Gunn High School’s new schedule for the 2015-16 school year will include two tutorials, four to five classes each day and classes that meet three times a week. Photo courtesy of Gunn’s Creative Scheduling Committee.

    After Paly’s implementation of the block schedule, “it didn’t take long for the teachers and students to say ‘wow, this is amazing,” School Board member Melissa Baten Caswell said.

    Gunn students are also looking forward to the schedule change.

    “Kids are very excited … We’re all talking about it [the schedule change],” Gunn School Board representative and senior Rose Weinmann said.

    The new bell schedule will include block periods ranging from 70-75 minutes along with two tutorial periods per week. Each class will be held three times per week.

    In addition, the Minority Achievement and Talent Development Committee addressed the School Board to come up with solutions to racial and socio-economic disparities around education in the district.

    The committee displayed a slideshow that detailed the Committee’s plans and goals for the issue. According to the slideshow, PAUSD’s socio-economically disadvantaged students, African American students and Latino students have historically lower outcomes than their peers in various categories in PAUSD. The committee identified problem clusters these students face and came up with possible solutions.

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    Superintendent McGee commends the Minority Achievement and Talent Development Committee after their presentation about combating racial disparities in education. Photo by Aidan Maese-Czeropski.

    “We do not have a lot of teachers of color and that’s something that should be changed,” Gunn student Shannon Yang said.

    The Committee also hopes to address the racial disparity by focusing on eight potential solution areas, including expanding early education, encouraging parent engagement and fixing the laning of subjects in all PAUSD schools.

    “[We should] commit ourselves to equity,” one parent said. “It means we measure our success as a school district, when all of us thrive and not just the privileged kids.”

    The School Board will further discuss the MATD Committee’s plans at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9.

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