Switch to blocks could benefit athletics, but questions remain
By By Stephen Herzog - firstname.lastname@example.org
April 17, 2010 at 9:05 p.m.
Updated April 16, 2010 at 11:17 p.m.
Anytime a significant change is made, it's only a matter of time before the questions start rolling in.
As Memorial High School becomes Victoria East and Victoria West in the next school year, there will be changes across the board.
One of those changes is a switch from a seven-period day to a block schedule, in which students will have four longer periods each day, alternating classes every other day.
It could take some getting used to for students and teachers alike, but what does this mean for athletics?
According to Ralph Escalona, VISD athletic director, it doesn't make much of a difference.
"It doesn't affect athletics hardly at all," Escalona said.
There will still be an athletic period every day, unlike most classes which will meet every other day.
But University Interscholastic League rules allow only an hour during school each day to be devoted to athletics.
Because of that, the athletic period will share a block with a study hall.
Escalona said the details are still being worked out, but coaches will have the option of holding a study hall first and then having a work out, or holding a work out first, then finishing with a study hall.
"Most coaches are already familiar with the block schedule," Escalona said. "So there's not much that changes."
Still, for those who aren't familiar with how the block schedule works, there are still unanswered questions.
Phyllis Keller has triplets in the VISD system. Two play tennis, and one is in band.
She has a few questions that still haven't been answered.
She e-mailed an official at the school to ask about the reasons for the switch to block schedules, but she hasn't heard back.
"I was told the block system is typically more expensive," Keller said. "I don't know it that's true, but I'd like to know."
She said she spoke to coaches from the Corpus Christi area whose schools had switched from block to standard schedules because it was more cost-effective for the school district.
She also wonders how students and teachers will be affected by the change academically.
And for student athletes, she said she's unsure if study hall will be a good use of time.
"How can that study hall count toward their degree credits?" she asked.
Keller said all her questions may have good answers, but she hasn't heard them yet.
"We're very excited about the two high schools," she said. "I'd just like to have a response."
But most of her concerns lie within academics. She said it seems like athletics will be mostly unchanged.
Besides the new system having few issues for athletics, Escalona said he believes it will actually be beneficial.
"There's really no negative. I feel like it's a better situation for athletics," Escalona said.
He said it gives coaches some flexibility in how to best utilize their athletic period, and the additional study hall time is a great addition.
"That's another positive," he said. "It allows coaches to stay on top of kids' grades with that additional 30 minutes for study hall.
"It's a great situation for athletics."