By Staff Writers Andrew Kan & Amber Lee
Due to conflicts with FUSD attendance policy for MSJ’s current advisory system, the school’s teachers decided through two votes to implement a new advisory system for the 2017-18 school year. The first voting period lasted from May 3 to May 10; the second voting period lasted from May 17 to May 23.
With the current advisory system, on Thursdays, students are allowed to choose which classroom or activity they want to attend without informing a teacher or administrator. During advisory, the teacher whose room a student is in stamps a time card to provide proof that the student stayed on campus. Since there is no record of students’ locations until after advisory has ended, the current advisory schedule does not comply with district policy mandating that the school knows where all students are during instructional time. Principal Zack Larsen said, “In the event that a parent needs to get their child or the unlikely event that there is some sort of disaster and we need to account for where students are, we don’t know during that brief 40-minute period, so we had to come up with an accountability system where roll could be taken.”
After school administrators became aware of the safety problem, MSJ teacher representatives from the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association began working with Larsen and the assistant principals over a period of several weeks to develop a new advisory system. The new system was revealed and discussed at several staff meetings before the teachers voted on the proposal along with schedule changes from May 3 to May 10. However, it was unclear whether or not staff wanted to keep advisory and implement the new system next year from the vote, so a second vote specifically for voting on keeping the new advisory system and the Back to School Night date was held from May 17 to May 23.
According to Larsen, advisory will continue to be from 9:55 to 10:41 a.m. on Thursdays. However, in the new system, teachers will take roll for their third period class during advisory. Students can either stay in their third period classroom for advisory or sign up on a classroom list to indicate which room that they will go to, so that teachers know where their students are during the advisory period. In addition, the current policy in which different departments alternate between being open to students or closed for collaboration during advisory will not be continued next year. In the new system, if a teacher plans to meet with another teacher during advisory to collaborate, or cannot supervise his or her own third period class, the teacher will tell the students ahead of time that they must sign up to go to a different classroom. Teachers also have the option of using facilities like the B-Wing cafeteria, C-120, or the Flex Room for combining classes with other teachers.
Larsen said of the new system, “The biggest pro I think is student safety and accountability. We know where kids are, should some event happen or something happen that we need to locate kids.” Students will have to put more planning into where they will go during advisory, but can now be found more quickly and reliably.
Photo from The Smoke Signal Archive