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EPISD students protest schedule change, teacher displacements

EPISD students protest schedule change, teacher displacements
The School Yard

POSTED: Monday, April 14, 2014 - 11:15pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 12:09pm

 Dozens of H.S. Hut Brown Middle School students stayed after school Monday, but they didn't have detention, they were holding a demonstration.

The students were protesting against a pair of proposals from the El Paso Independent School District.

EPISD is considering moving all middle school campuses from block scheduling, in which students see some teachers every other day for longer periods, to a more traditional schedule of eight classes per school day with 45-minute periods.

"They're cutting our classes to a time that isn't going to help us learn what we need to learn," one student told NewsChannel 9.

Brown Middle School science teacher Alma Chavez agreed, calling an eight period day an "overload for students."

"Even a computer needs time to buffer, to process," she said.

The district said the schedule shift - which if adopted would take effect next school year - would benefit students of the middle school age, and has already proven effective at two of EPISD's campuses.

"Teachers have to be able to deliver that instruction in a succinct way in order for the kids to really understand," said Area Superintendent Dr. Royce Avery of the shorter periods.

Avery said the move would also save EPISD money, though he wasn't able to elaborate as to how much.

Another district plan intentionally aimed at cutting costs is EPISD's proposal eliminate 131 teaching positions.

The district is anticipating a $12 million shortfall this budget cycle due to declining enrollment.

Administration officials reiterated Monday that despite the positions elimination, teacher layoffs were not expected.

They said the educators affected would most likely land positions at different campuses due to attrition.

EPISD Associate Superintendent Robert Almanzán, who oversees the district's Human Resources Department, said the teachers could have to wait until summer before learning their new assignments.

When asked, Almanzán stopped short of promising that all 131 teachers would all be placed back in a classroom.

Brown science teacher Lorean Salais, one of the educators in limbo, said she was disappointed.

"I don't want to leave this campus," she said. "I'm really close the students that are here and I would like to continue to be here."

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