Photo by Tony Chen
SPHS parents and students packed the SPUSD board room to voice their opinions regarding the new mandatory study hall policy on Tuesday, June 26.
The policy — set to take action in the 2018-19 school year — requires students to take six classes with an additional study hall period. This study hall period has been optional in previous years, allowing students to replace it with an elective class. Now, students must take study hall unless they are enrolled in a class listed on the exemptions list. These courses include credit recovery, biomedical science, four year pathways, and classes that require auditions, elections, and/or applications.
Speakers expressed concern that schedules now have no room for electives in their in-school class schedules. The main issue students and parents brought up to electives offered beyond the school year was that many are busy over the summer, and families are reluctant to pay for summer school in order to make room for an elective.
“A lot of electives took a hit from the restrictions and we wanted to protect these programs because of how integral and important the experience of co-curriculars is for our [high school] years,” rising senior Alexandra Chan said. “For a while parents have been going back and forth with the board about the issue and they’ve finally agreed to discuss it. We’ll be hopefully making good use of the public comments section to let our voice be heard.”
During the public comment section, parents and students stepped forward to inform the board of the consequences of the new policy and question why classes like computer science, drama, and choir are not included on the exemptions list. Students of all grades and a few SPHS alumni explained the importance of electives and how these courses allow students to balance their academic life with their emotional life. Many also mentioned that electives give students an opportunity to discover their passion outside of academic classes, but now this policy inhibits students from seeking out their interests.
After hearing the comments, the board explained that if they were to eliminate the mandatory study hall and offer seven periods to all students, it would require an additional ten full time equivalent (FTE), a unit indicating the workload of an employee, which would cost the district over a million dollars annually.
Board members suggested other ways students can make room for an elective while following the policy. Students can take summer school, classes at Pasadena City College, or online courses.