High school teachers at Turlock High and Pitman High Schools are stymied by a controversial decision by Turlock Unified School District officials to eliminate the “finals week” schedule.
Typically the last three days of each semester are minimum days and students attend two, two-hour classes per day to take finals. Students are guaranteed to only have to prepare for two exams, essays or projects per day. The minimum day schedule allows the students to study and have extra time to prepare for the next day, and also allows teachers an extra few hours for grading the more than 150 finals tests, essays or projects.
But for some reason, TUSD decided to implement a change, despite not receiving input from PHS, THS teachers or the Turlock Teachers Association.
TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto briefly described the reason for the change.
“The finals schedules for students and staff this semester did change—a decision that was made in conjunction with both high school principals last spring in looking to increase instructional minutes,” said Da Marto in an email. “We will be meeting with high school administration in January to strategize on a modified final schedule for second semester finals that more closely aligns to higher education expectations.”
But teachers feel the decision is detrimental to students and teachers.
“This is going to be very hard on students,” said Turlock Teachers Association President and THS German and English Teacher Julie Shipman in a statement. “Finals will have to take place over several class periods, they could conceivably have 5 or 6 tests per day, and they have less time to rest up and then study some more.”
In contract language between the TTA and the district it reads, “The District and the Association, by mutual consent, may agree to increase the instructional day during the Final Examination Schedule to ensure the same number of annual instructional minutes as existed during the previous school year.”
Since TUSD evidently decided not to consult TTA or teachers at the two schools, the TTA has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the State Public Employees Relations Board.
“We obviously feel that both years of past practice and the contract protects the Final Examination Schedule and our prep time that goes along with it,” said Shipman. “After several conversations with the District to no avail, TTA filed another Unfair Labor Practice Charge. We are scheduled to meet in February for the informal hearing. We strongly feel that if we had been consulted, we could have come up with a plan that kept the Final Examination Schedule intact, which is beneficial to both teachers and students.”