District considers consolidating, cutting electives

By Benjy Wall-Feng

Administrators, teachers, and students across the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) are discussing the potential proposal of a number of cost-cutting changes to scheduling policies next year, according to Tam principal J.C. Farr and multiple teachers.

If the changes are proposed and approved by the TUHSD board, elective classes — those which do not fulfill Tam graduation requirements for English, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts, or physical education — will be cut unless at least 30 students are enrolled, and classes currently in a zero period will be moved into the normal seven-period schedule.

In past years, there has been no official policy dictating a minimum number of students per class, and decisions in that area have been left to the discretion of the school administration. Many elective classes currently have less than 30 students.

The discussion comes as the TUHSD is searching for ways to reduce its spending in the midst of a financial crisis that was brought on in part due to increasing enrollment in district schools. Eliminating or consolidating classes would reduce the number of new teachers necessary for those additional students, and save the district the cost of hiring.

“Here’s the amount of students you have, here’s the total amount of employees you have,” Farr said. “It’s up to you, the school site, to make a decision on how you divide them — but you’re not getting additional money.”

And moving zero period classes might prevent students with otherwise full schedules from enrolling in them. Abbey Levine, who currently teaches Link Crew as a zero period class, expressed concern that if enough students drop the class because of already-full schedules, it could be cut entirely.

“Essentially Link Crew would be relegated to club status,” Levine said. “We would continue to have two meetings a month, which is what we currently do, but the content and the small communities and the level of support that we provide to freshmen will be minimized.”

Any new policies that the administration decides to implement will be finalized in the next semester, according to Farr.

“In the spring, when we go through the master scheduling process, we will assess the courses that people sign up for,” he said, “and then decisions will be made.”