The Turlock Unified School District and Turlock Teachers Association has come to a settlement agreement regarding a disputed high school final exam week schedule.
The TTA filed an unfair labor charge after the District’s decision to eliminate the final exam schedule in December, which according to the union left teachers without ample time to grade student work at the end of the semester and pressured students to take multiple final exams in one day.
According to assistant superintendent of human resources Heidi Lawler, the District originally opted to eliminate the final exam schedule in an effort to increase instructional minutes after additional teacher collaboration time was implemented.
“Due to the high interest and need for providing staff with additional collaboration time focused on student learning, we looked to the availability of instructional minutes during finals week at the high schools to compensate, knowing that both staffs and administrations would coordinate internal efforts to accommodate students’ needs,” said Lawler.
As a result of the newly reached settlement agreement, students and teachers will undergo two early release days during finals week this semester on May 28 and 29. Pitman High School will put into effect an early release time at 12:30 p.m. on both days, while Turlock High School will do the same with an early release time at 12:15 p.m.
As previously instated collaboration days, Wednesday will still have early release times under the new schedule. PHS and THS will be implementing dismissal times at 1:45 p.m. and 1:47 p.m., respectively, on May 20 and 27.
Teachers are expected to especially benefit from Wednesday’s slightly altered schedule as the agreement postulates that instead of reserving May 20 and 27 for scheduled Professional Learning Community meetings after dismissal, teachers will be able to utilize this extra time for individual teacher preparation.
“This gives us a full amount of prep time minutes and will help us get our job done,” said TTA President Julie Shipman. “This new schedule can also benefit students if the principals come up with the right schedule, but we don’t have control of that.”
Control of schedule organization is up to administrators, including high school principals from both comprehensive sites. According to assistant superintendent of educational services Dana Salles Trevethan, the District will meet to discuss and coordinate this semester’s final exam schedule, including how the days will be broken up.
This new schedule is only a temporary adjustment as the settlement agreement requires that both TTA and TUSD must bargain in “good faith” over a high school final exam schedule for the 2015-2016 academic year. The new schedule must be agreed upon prior to May 15.
“The District is looking forward to positive discussions during negotiations with the bargaining units,” said Lawler.
As for the TTA, Shipman reports that upon entering into negotiations with the District, her bargaining unit will propose to return to the regular final exam schedule next year by compensating with as many Wednesday collaboration days as are needed.