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Education

Chula Vista High will keep its eight-period schedule for another year

Chula Vista High School will keep its eight-period class schedule, a flexible format that gives students more room to take arts and other electives, for another year.

Principal Jennifer Barker-Heinz announced the news late last week in an email to students and staff. She said the eight periods would remain in place for the next school year while a district working group analyzed the schedule’s effect on student enrollment, attendance and other factors.

The announcement came after weeks of swirling rumors that district officials planned to wind down the eight-period schedule at Chula Vista High, even though many students and teachers want it to stay.

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Earlier last week, more than 100 Chula Vista High students rallied outside the Sweetwater School District offices, asking administrators to let them keep eight periods. They argued that the schedule supports Chula Vista High’s acclaimed visual and performing arts program and gives all students more flexibility to focus on their interests.

Students and teachers are celebrating the news that they will get to keep the schedule next year. But some said it was also bittersweet.

“Even if it's going to stay for next year, we can't promise that it's going to stay for more years to come,” said Quinton Rivera, a junior in the theater program and an organizer of the student rallies. “But we are hoping that people get inspired to continue fighting.”

A Sweetwater district spokesperson did not agree to an interview request.

Chula Vista High student Kevin Gonzalez, a senior in the theater program, stands for a portrait outside the school on Jan. 30, 2024. Students say recent decisions by the district is placing the future of the school's arts program in jeopardy.
Kori Suzuki for KPBS / California Local
Chula Vista High student Kevin Gonzalez, a senior in the theater program, stands for a portrait outside the school on Jan. 30, 2024. Students say recent decisions by the district is placing the future of the school's arts program in jeopardy.
Chula Vista High student Quinton Rivera, a junior in the theater program, stands for a portrait outside the school on Jan. 30, 2024. Students say recent decisions by the district is placing the future of the school's arts program in jeopardy.
Kori Suzuki for KPBS / California Local
Chula Vista High student Quinton Rivera, a junior in the theater program, stands for a portrait outside the school on Jan. 30, 2024. Students say recent decisions by the district is placing the future of the school's arts program in jeopardy.

Chula Vista High has run on an eight-period block schedule for more than five years. The format gives students longer chunks of continuous class time and more class slots per semester than in a typical six-period schedule. It also means students can take more elective classes like theater and band without having to attend pre-dawn zero periods or stay on campus late into the evening.

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The school’s current accountability report card, which all California schools publish every year, describes the schedule as “innovative” and says it gives students more chances to participate in activities and become “well-rounded individuals.”

All of this, students and teachers said, has helped Chula Vista High become a stronghold for creative and performing arts. At last week’s rally outside the Sweetwater district offices, they held signs reading “Keep 8 Periods” and “Don’t make us pick between our passions.”

Chula Vista High is one of just two schools in the Sweetwater school district that run on this type of schedule. But a number of other San Diego-area schools also use eight-period schedules, including schools in Poway, Coronado and San Diego Unified.

Now, that eight-period schedule will remain at Chula Vista High next year. But it will be under scrutiny, according to the principal’s email. She said a working group assembled by the district and the teachers’ union would analyze how the schedule was influencing student enrollment numbers, graduation rates, attendance, employee contracts and grant funding.

“There's no really final decision,” said Kevin Gonzalez, a senior in the theater program. “It’s very confusing.”

The email did not say whether Chula Vista High would receive additional funding to support its career technical education, or CTE, teachers — another student request.

But Rivera also said they were hopeful the debate over the schedule was making students more aware of what was happening districtwide.

“It's making me more aware of what's going on with the school,” they said. “Making me want to see how much I can do to help — see what else I can do.”

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