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Every Minute Counts

Yohanna Konardi | ykonardi19@dtechhs.org | October 16, 2018

Some students don’t seem to mind it. “I like that I can talk to the people around me,” says freshman Zen Trent. Many don’t see a point to it. “It’s too short to do anything,” says junior Marek Garbaczonek. Others are simply amused by it, like senior Kieran Jung, who scoffed and called it “hilariously short.” Some, like 12th grade English teacher Rachel Siegman, ¨don’t even notice it.” Though there has been much speculation about the eight minute break, many do not realize the amount of work that has been put into fitting it in the schedule.

For the past three years, the break in between second and third period was called a “Physical Activity Break”, 15 minutes otherwise known as “PAB”. However, with our new, eight minute break placed between first and second period, does it still warrant such a title? According to Director of Intersession Wendy Little, the name only applied during d.tech’s first year, when students were still sharing a campus with Mills High School. “PAB really used to be physical minutes,” she said, sharing that the class of 2018 originally had 20 minutes a day for it.

During that time, students were required to stay active through walking, throwing a frisbee, or playing a sport. Because the students were really exercising, the break would count as instructional minutes. Yet once the school moved to Rollins, then San Mateo Adult School and Oracle campuses, there was no longer space for students to exercise. This meant that the break no longer contributed to a school day’s instructional minutes, and as a result, PAB transformed into the shortened eight minute break, with the remaining minutes being redistributed among classes and passing periods.

Little, the head coordinator of the school year schedule, understands the importance of breaks. “We are never trying to take social time away from you,” Little says, expressing her sympathy for the eight minute matter. She shares that the balance between classes and breaks “all comes down to instructional minutes.”

The school needs a minimum of 64,800 instructional minutes per year to meet the state standards of California’s Educational Department. Without proof of these minutes being completed, the school would face financial penalties, such as having to return state funding. Little estimates that with the current schedule, the school would be over the minimum requirement by 77 minutes, yet granting students even one extra minute of break a day would leave the school in a deficit. “If the eight minute break was to be one minute longer,” says Little, “we would have to extend the school year by a week!”

Another option to lengthen the break would be to start the school day earlier or later. However, d.tech’s occupancy permit requires the school to prove that at least 50 percent of the students can show up to school on time using public transportation, and the staff had no choice but to work with a schedule that starts at 8:45 and ends by 3:35.

Some students understand this schedule restriction and have no complaints, like Senior Vlad Morozov. “They need to get instructional minutes in somehow,” he shrugs. Morozov is indifferent to the break, treating the time like an extra long passing period. Others prefer to use the minutes elsewhere. “I would like more time for passing periods”, says Sophomore Yamini Prasad, while Senior Sasha Kuzmin would “rather have a longer lunch.”  Freshman Maya Richter also has some concerns, saying that “teachers let us out later because they know we have an eight minute break.”

Though there is plenty of student input on what to do with the eight minute break, the staff have already decided on a schedule for this semester that is compliant with state standards and allows the school year to end by June 7th. However, as a school focused on constant iteration, who knows what may happen next semester?


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