Jun 6 2016

SCHOOLS: Sports, Condoms, Salads, Computer and Math Classes, and Elementary Schedules

Athletics Take Too Much Time, Condoms in PHS, Food Pricing Encourages Unhealthy Choices, New Computer Programming Class

The Piedmont Unified School District’s Board of Education met on April 27, 2016 at Piedmont City Hall for its monthly meeting. The meeting was called to order at approximately 7:02 pm and began with open session. The first speakers, Claire Reichle and Emilia Rivera, discussed a lack of emotional based learning in Piedmont’s school systems.

Sean Rodriguez spoke about the amount of time required to play a sport at Piedmont High School. He stated that on average, basketball players would be at practice for three hours a day during the week, and up to five hours on Saturdays. He suggested having a maximum of two hours each day for practice, allowing student athletes to have more time to rest and study.

Later, Tom Jara suggested that Piedmont High School should have accessible condoms for students to encourage and make safe sex an easy and available option for students.

Sierra Singer wanted to reduce the price of salads at Piedmont High School. She stated that the Piedmont School District has always advocated healthy eating, but a salad is more expensive than chicken tenders and pizza at the high school’s cafeteria. Due to this, students feel more inclined to eat cheaper, unhealthy foods.

After open session, the School Board discussed the Piedmont Unified School District’s budget. The Board discussed that the District is in debt and that money is very tight. They suggested a new tax called the School Support Tax for 2016-2017. The purpose of this tax is to raise money for the District, allowing it to pay off its debt and continue providing high-grade equipment for the schools.

Piedmont High School’s Vice Principal, Ms. Munoz, came to the stand to propose a new computer class for the High School. The class would be labeled the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles Course. This class would allow students to expand their knowledge of computer programming and prepare students for computer science related majors and jobs after graduation.

Mr. Mattix, a Piedmont High computer teacher, also spoke about the new computer class. He stated that this class would replace the current Mobile Applications computer class. Mr. Mattix and Ms. Munoz also explained that nearly 100 students have already expressed interest in the new class.

Nearly 50% of the interested students are female. This is a key point for Piedmont High School, as the High School has been trying to encourage girls to pursue computer science and even out the percentage of boys and girls interested in programming.

Personally, I believe this is a good addition to Piedmont High School’s computer science department. As a junior, I took Advanced Placement Computer Programming. After completing that course, however, I did not have another course to take as a senior. It appears that Advanced Placement Computer Principles is a course that furthers the knowledge learned in the Computer Programming course I took. If this class is approved, it will allow students to get more practical experience with their computer skills, as well as learn new information, making them strong candidates for future computer programming jobs.

In an interview with Mr. Mattix, he stated that he was at the meeting to help Ms. Munoz answer questions about the newly proposed Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles class. He also wanted to inform the Board of the astonishing number of people interested in the class, as well as mention that the population of female programmers is nearly even with the amount of male programmers at Piedmont High School. Mr. Mattix sees this as an accomplishment, as only two girls were enrolled in advanced placement computer science courses his first year teaching at Piedmont. When asked what he would do next, Mr. Mattix stated, “There is no next step for me. I have helped prepare the class and proposed it to the Board.” The decision to approve the class is now in the hands of the Board.

Piedmont High Vice Principal Munoz also proposed new math courses at Piedmont and Millennium High Schools. These courses, Integrated Math 2, Integrated Math 2A, and Integrated Math 2B/3, would cover material in Model Mathematics II and III courses in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in California Public Schools.

A Piedmont Middle School teacher spoke out on this topic. She claimed that middle schoolers would be prepared to take these classes. Piedmont High math teacher, Mr. Marthinsen, spoke against this proposal. He believed that students should not have more high level math classes to worry about. He suggested that Piedmont ban all Advanced Placement and Honors classes. He feels that students are under too much pressure, and are unable to truly process information or enjoy learning due to the tremendous amount of pressure and work given.

The Elementary Design Program then proposed a new schedule for Piedmont Elementary schools. The Design Program argued that the current schedule has too many transitions in the day, making it difficult for younger children to stay on task and work efficiently. Due to this, the Design Program stated that too much time is being wasted, not allowing enough time for core academic instruction and learning. The Design Program’s new schedule would also provide ample opportunities for integrated learning, arts, and technology. The proposed schedule limits interruptions throughout the week by having a similar class schedule everyday. By having a similar class schedule everyday, students’ lives will be less chaotic as they can plan to learn certain subject at a dedicated time each day.

by Sean Rodriguez, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.

One Response to “SCHOOLS: Sports, Condoms, Salads, Computer and Math Classes, and Elementary Schedules”

  1. In belated reply to the report on the PUSD Board meeting of May 25 by Sean Rodriguez, here are excerpts of comments not in the piece which I made in open session:
    June 30th is the deadline for terminating the exemptions to the School Support Tax, Measure A . Otherwise, the District will lose another $130,000 in revenue in FY 2016-17. Fear of a lawsuit is the explanation given to me for continuing the unlawful exemptions, but I believe this fear is unfounded.
    The bottom line is that Measure A is the law and it allowed no such exemptions.
    I take no great pleasure in finding fault with the District. But what I first thought was a simple accounting error has morphed over time into gross negligence and an appalling indifference to the law.

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