HAYWARD — The popular high school block schedule system, which was a casualty of budget cuts earlier this year when the school board voted to eliminate it, will return to the table on Wednesday because a board member has had a change of heart.
Luis Reynoso, who was voted onto the Hayward Unified School District board in November, said at the March 25 meeting that he was left impressed with the block system after touring high school classrooms, and now wants to rescind his vote.
"I have visited high schools and remedial classes, and am very impressed by the instruction," he said. "I do not want to see this go, so I would like to vote again and change my vote. "... I am hoping other board members will join me."
The board voted 3-2 to shift district high schools from the popular "block" schedule to the previously used traditional six-period day, meaning 25 to 30 teaching positions could be cut, according to the 1,300-member Hayward Education Association. The move would save the district $1 million annually.
However, officials said that since that decision was made, they have appropriated saved moneys in other capacities. If the board reverses its decision, it will mean a $2.5 million adjustment to the current budget, said Donna Becnel, assistant superintendent of human resources for the district.
The issue has attracted scores of students and teachers to board meetings, and many have spoken in favor of the block during the public comment session. Reynoso had been against keeping the block on the grounds that other districts that do not use the system have seen success using a more traditional six-period day. The block schedule utilizes four longer periods, and proponents say it's a boon for classes that require more intensive sessions or setup time, such as music, arts and Advanced Placement courses.
However, some HUSD employees are concerned that reinstating the block schedule will mean inevitable damage in other areas.
"Continuing the block schedule in our present situation will produce disastrous repercussions," wrote David Grant in an open letter to the board.
Grant has worked in the district's maintenance department since 1986. He said resources are stretched so thin that any additional losses will have a dramatic effect on the upkeep of facilities. In another item on Wednesday's agenda, Reynoso is asking administrators to accept a voluntary 15 percent pay cut, and requested a salary analysis comparing HUSD with other districts, which will be presented to the board on Wednesday.
The HUSD board meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 777 B St.
Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-293-2473.