On Wednesday evening, April 12, the Coronado Unified School District 4×4 Bell Schedule Committee held a final public forum to welcome community input.
Three of the five attendees shared their input with the committee, expressing their expectations, asking clarifying questions about the 4×4 schedule and sharing their positive experiences with the new schedule.
The 4×4 schedule, now in its second year, was implemented at Coronado High School in the fall of 2021.
The school considers six classes a full load, but this schedule gives students the opportunity to take up to eight classes per academic year.
Yearlong classes worth 10 credits can now be completed in half of a school year, otherwise known as term 1 or term 2, which include two 9-week long quarters each.
The final public forum, welcoming the community at large to provide feedback, took place at the Coronado Public Library Winn Room and lasted an hour and a half.
Committee members in attendance included Brian Trotier, Roelof Roos, Stephanie Slaughter and appointed board member Trustee Alexia Palacios-Peters.
The committee, consisting of seven total members—five committee members and two appointed board members—was approved at the January board meeting to examine the effectiveness of the 4×4 schedule at Coronado High School.
Multiple opportunities for CHS faculty, students and parents to meet with the committee took place from March through April this year, according to committee members.
Trotier considered that no more than 10 attendees would show up since few parents had attended the previous two sessions this month, he said.
Trotier said that six parents of CHS students attended the Winn Room at the Coronado Public Library on the evening of April 6. The day prior, on April 5, eight CHS parents participated in the 10-minute time slots to meet with the committee one-on-one at the District Office.
Range of sources
Trotier began the meeting by inviting people to share comments, questions, concerns and thoughts.
“Our focus in this group is to take input from as many sources as possible, looking at trying to figure out what we can do differently or better with the schedule,” Trotier said. “We have a broad range of input coming from students, faculty, parents and now the general community.”
In attendance was Trustee Malachy Sandie, expressing his desire for the subcommittee to improve the 4×4 schedule by focusing on the district’s mission of quality education for higher education, careers and society.
Another community member and CHS parent to a CoSA freshman asked about the thought process behind the 4×4.
The committee said that consideration for the bell schedule change began during the 2018/ 2019 school year with the previous board.
One reason was based on the experience of a previous student not meeting A-G requirements upon graduation to be eligible to matriculate at an institution of higher education, said Roos.
Flexibility in new schedule
The 4×4 schedule now gives students the opportunity to take up to eight classes per academic year, making students eligible to meet graduation requirements before the end of their senior year.
This schedule may be considered fast-paced and includes additional nightly homework. However, students can choose to take six, seven or eight classes during an academic year.
Additionally, students with six or seven classes may add one off-roll period per term, otherwise known as free periods, which the school allows for students to balance the rigor of additional course load that is available through the schedule.
Roos said the timing of Advanced Placement or AP exams is terrible because students who take AP courses in the fall must wait until the spring to take respective exams. AP exams are standardized tests designed to measure how well a student has mastered the content of a specific AP course. At many colleges and universities, a high score on an AP exam will earn a student college credit.
According to Palacios-Peters, the letter that CUSD Board President Renee Cavanaugh produced requesting for the College Board to expand their testing options to accommodate schools operating on the 4×4 bell schedule remains in the editing process.
Community member Gail Bardin shared her granddaughter’s positive experience and academic success in the 4×4 schedule.
“Thriving in the 4×4”
Transferring to Coronado High School from Point Loma High School, her granddaughter considers her freshman year coursework manageable and less stressful because she is taking four classes rather than six, and is now on the path to taking AP courses come junior year, said Bardin.
“She’s just thriving in the 4×4,” Bardin said. “Coronado is an excellent school.”
Bardin also attended the previous CHS parents public forum inside the Winn Room as well as the one-on-one meetings at the district.
The committee said a final survey will be sent out to parents, students and teachers for final input by the end of this week prior to finalizing the May report presenting the feedback they gathered.
Palacios-Peters said most of the feedback received has been from teachers and the greatest concern is how to maintain year-round electives like art, band and yearbook in a 4×4 bell schedule.
After improvement recommendations in the report, accompanied by a presentation from CHS Principal Karin Mellina set to give updates on the 4×4 bell schedule and student performance data at the May regular board meeting, the 4×4 Bell Committee will then cease to exist, said Palacios-Peters.
“Once we get into reviewing everything, we probably won’t take in that much more information, but people could still send us emails even if they miss this opportunity,” Palacios-Peters said.