Parents and students rally for Laguna Beach USD to nix proposed schedule change

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Laguna Beach students and parents protest the so-called “4 by 4” scheduled change at Park Avenue and Legion Street on May 21. Photo by Daniel Langhorne

More than 60 Laguna Beach parents and students waived colorful signs and chanted at Park Avenue and Legion Street on Friday to protest a proposed academic schedule for the Laguna Beach Unified School District.

Many of the protestors were frustrated with the so-called “4 by 4” model that would enroll students in four courses per semester for the 2021-22 school year, rather than the usual six courses. Students would also need to complete each course in a semester instead of the usual practice of an entire school year.

The protesting parents contend this could set students up for disaster ahead of state and AP exams. For example, a student who enrolls in a fall math class would go four months without math instruction right before exam season.

Friday’s protest was boosted by a change.org petition created by Laguna Beach High School sophomore Abby Roedersheiner, which had garnered nearly 400 signatures by Saturday.

“I think the school district thinks it’s going to be better but we know what’s best for us as students and parents know what’s best for their kids,” Roedersheiner said.

Laguna Beach Unified Supt. Jason Viloria said in a prepared statement Friday that they continue to research and collect stakeholder input on scheduling for the 2021-22 school year.

“I have the upmost confidence in our teams and believe that our site leadership will make an informed decision that supports our mission of ensuring each LBUSD student gains the knowledge, experience, world perspectives, and skills needed to become a lifelong learner and producer in a competitive and interconnected world,” Viloria said.

Laguna Beach parents protest the so-called “4 by 4” schedule change on May 21. Photo by Daniel Langhorne

In a presentation to high school parents on Monday, district officials said the proposed schedule’s benefits include uniformity among class time and days, more opportunity to access electives, and students can potentially repeat or accelerate in certain classes within a school year, high school parent Colleen Connelly said.

Many parents dispute the reasoning behind the district’s stated motivations. They’re also frustrated that each class would see in-person instruction reduced to 135 hours from 180 hours per year, Connelly said.

After a year punctuated by distance and hybrid learning models adopted due to COVID-19, parents like Kari Menter, a 17-year Laguna Beach resident, say families want a sense of normalcy.

“It’s not a great solution to implement this so quickly after they’ve had huge change over a year,” said Menter, who attended the rally with her Thurston seventh-grader. “Having them only take core classes for half the year would be detrimental to their education.”

Hypothetically, a student could enroll in only elective classes for a semester under the proposed model.

This isn’t the first time Laguna Beach parents have rallied against an academic calendar change. In 2018, school board members approved administrators’ recommendation to resume classes before Labor Day despite widespread opposition among parents and students.

The Laguna Beach Unified School District’s Board of Education will meet via Zoom at 6 p.m. on May 27. A meeting agenda will be available Monday.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Superintendent Viloria prepared statement?:
    “I have the upmost confidence in our teams and believe that our site leadership will make an informed decision that supports our mission of ensuring each LBUSD student gains the Knowledge,experience, world perspective and skills needed to become a lifelong learner and producer in a competitive and interconnected world.”
    Is this the work of our newly hired $6-figure PR person? Or has Superintendent Viloria once again deflected all responsibility and accountability to “Teams” and “Site Leadership”.
    Our “ELECTED” School Board members relinquished their “ELECTED” powers to this Superintendent during Covid-19 and have yet to re-establish the control that they were “ELECTED” for. Yet with FULL authority this Superintendent avoids all hard questions and chooses to farm out any and all responsibility.
    Here is a VERY simple question that all the citizens of Laguna Beach should be asking.
    With the highest salaried teachers in the Country; the highest per capita spending on students in the State; and (4) of the most beautiful campuses in the World.
    WHY are so many parents pulling their children and leaving LBUSD?
    The answer is SIMPLE: Leadership-both with the Superintendent and the School Board.

  2. Once again, You nailed it Kirk! The 4 by 4 schedule being proposed is coming from the teacher union, not the needs of our students. Viloria has long professed that his salary is too low compared to that of our teachers and principals, which has never sat well with our frontline teaching staff. Therefore, the demands from teachers are getting more intense. The pure 4 by 4 benefits the teachers by having less students. Even given this fact, there are still a few teachers that do not agree with it due to the negative affect it will have on our students.
    He is using the popularity of our “site managers” to ram this change through, with little to no input from our parents or students. Our district office is broken, bloated and ineffective. Worse yet, Our School Board refuses to hold them accountable.

  3. Why is it that our board is not back in session in person? Why are we allowing the teachers’ union and obviously bloated district administration to make decisions without board input that will affect our students and their futures? Why are we paying SO MUCH MONEY to these “leaders” who are not leading through the community but dragging us through their own agendas? Our board has still not taken back their authority to govern and are lingering in an emergency state with the superintendent making the primary decisions. And for all who voted for these board members, when are you going to put party politics aside and consider what is best for students? Our kids are the primary people who are counting on you to ensure that we have leaders who are responding to their constituents, making sound, and thoughtful decisions. We all need the adults in the room to put aside their woke ideals in favor of real, grounded education.

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