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GAPS community split about district's new schedule

A student-led petition in opposition of the interim schedule has already received more than 1,200 signatures.

Posted: Jun 18, 2021 4:06 PM
Updated: Jun 18, 2021 6:48 PM

ALBANY, Ore. -- Members of the Greater Albany Public School district are split about the district's decision to change next year's schedule.

The district announced both South Albany High School and West Albany High School will transition to a common seven-period modified block schedule for the upcoming academic year.

That means students will attend all seven of their courses on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays for 50 minutes each. On Wednesdays, they will attend periods one to three for 90 minutes each. On Thursdays, they attend periods four to seven for 90 minutes each.

A student-led petition in opposition of the interim schedule has already received more than 1,200 signatures.

KEZI spoke to Sachi Wrigley, a rising senior at West Albany High School who started the petition.

"I had been spending my whole high school career taking these educational classes, AP classes, preparing to have the opportunity my senior year to take fun classes that I want to take, and all of a sudden one of those chances is taken away from me," Wrigley said.

Wrigley said the inconsistencies of next year's schedule will be difficult to navigate for some students.

"There's seven periods for three days of the week, and then there's block periods for two of them, which means that we switch back and forth within the week and that inconsistency is really bad for our ability to learn, especially for people with autism, or ADHD or other neurodivergencies," Wrigley said.

Other students shared similar frustrations. Emma Yonemura is also a rising senior at West Albany High School. Because the new schedule only allows her to take seven courses instead of eight, she has to choose between two of her interests.

"I have to choose between a financial algebra course and a teaching course," Yonemura said. "I feel like as a senior, I shouldn't have to choose between those two."

But not all students were opposed to the changes.

One benefit of the new schedule is that students at both high schools will be able to take elective courses at the opposite school, according to a spokesperson for the district.

During the district's most recent school board meeting on June 7, a South Albany High School junior submitted a public comment in support of the change.

"It gives students great opportunities to take classes at both South and West Albany, bringing our community together and lessening the 'rivalry,'" they said.

KEZI also spoke to parents like Jaime Frasieur, who has two students at West Albany High School.

"This schedule, I still don't even understand it," Frasieur said. "It's like, one day you have seven classes, the next day, you have two. It's way too confusing."

Others, like future school board member Brad Wilson, said they wish the district worked harder to get input from the community before making their decision.

"What I would like to see happen is some more community involvement in talking about this," Wilson said. "The first thing we need to decide is, is it beneficial for both schools to be on the same schedule? If it is, then we need to seek a schedule that works for both schools and can be the best for the students to get the best education."

The district also said having the two high schools operate on the same schedule allows SAHS and WAHS educators who teach the same courses a better opportunity to plan and collaborate together.

According to the district, this is an interim schedule and feedback from students and staff will be taken into consideration before deciding on a future, permanent schedule that will begin in fall 2022.

The district's full schedule plan as well as the proposed benefits can be found HERE.

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