An Important Message from the Board of Education Regarding Block Scheduling

March 3, 2017
RE: Block Schedule at Risk

Dear Parents and Members of the Mount Pleasant Community:

The purpose of this communication is to advise the community that one aspect of the District's educational program, the High School Block Schedule, may need to be discontinued for the upcoming school year based upon our ongoing discussions and interactions with the Mount Pleasant Teachers Association (MPTA).

The Board is absolutely delighted by the overwhelming support of the community and staff for this program as well as for the academic success our students have achieved through their participation in the unique learning experience facilitated by Block Schedule instruction. The Board believes it is crucial to continue the Block Schedule for the 2017/18 school year and beyond. Unfortunately, the Block Schedule agreement which the MPTA graciously agreed to in a side letter in 2013 is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2017. This side letter was made necessary based upon existing language in the MPTA contract that prevents teachers from teaching more than 126 consecutive minutes (3 class periods).    

Because of the importance of the Block Schedule to our students' continued academic success, the Board believes that the Block Schedule is an academic issue which has no place at the bargaining table.  This concern had been expressed to the MPTA leadership since the Block Schedule's inception; however, the MPTA insists that the Block Schedule be negotiated as part of a new contract.

Based on the initial exchange of proposals between the Board and the MPTA, we appear to be heading into a lengthy negotiation. The Board is deeply concerned that the MPTA's refusal to agree to the continuation of the Block Schedule for the 2017/18 school year (and beyond) until such time as the parties reach an agreement. This means that the District will be unable to continue this vital academic program.  

High school students have selected their 2017/18 classes under the assumption that the Block Schedule will continue; however, this may have to be redone to accommodate a return to a 9 period class schedule. This will be a burden  for our students, parents, Principal, staff, as well as a great inconvenience to all others concerned.  While we are still hopeful that the MPTA reconsiders its position, time is running out. The Board believes it is important that the community be kept informed of these developments so that everyone can plan accordingly for the upcoming school year.

The Board is extremely grateful for our talented and committed staff and for the continued support of our taxpayers and community in sustaining the District's academic program.  Given the reality of the financial challenges imposed by the challenges of the Tax Cap and the ever increasing costs of unfunded mandates, the Board will continue to strive to balance our desire to compensate our teachers fairly, while also ensuring the very best educational program for our students both now and well into the future.  
Our next public board meeting, which will include a presentation on the 2017/18 Budget Overview and Non-Instructional Budget, is scheduled for March 8th at 7:30 pm in the Westlake High School Library. Please come out and share your thoughts.

Thank you.

The Board of Education

Christopher Pinchiaroli (President)
Thomas McCabe (Vice President)
Laurie Donato
Vincent Graci
Colleen Scaglione Neglia
John Piazza
Eric Schulze