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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Teachers raise concerns over district’s move to enforce longer school time hours

Math+teacher+Kelly+Frangieh+speaking+at+the+podium+and%C2%A0+opposing+the+board%E2%80%99s+new+policy.
LGSUHSD website
Math teacher Kelly Frangieh speaking at the podium and  opposing the board’s new policy.

During the public comment section of a board meeting on May 9, 13 teachers raised questions about an apparent attempt by district leadership to require teachers to be on campus for longer hours each work day and also sign in and sign out if they have to leave early.

The teachers said this change would affect their work and personal life balance. 

“I came to this district because teachers were treated with respect and had some amount of autonomy in organizing their work day,” science teacher Cheryl Lenz said. “Being able to decide how and when, where I engage in course prep or collaborative meetings with my colleagues is of utmost importance.”

District leaders have been negotiating with the District Teachers Association, the union that represents most teachers, in recent weeks over various issues, and one proposed change was contract language related to workday expectations. 

Since teachers do not have classes during every period (a full-time schedule means they teach five classes), some were confused about the reasoning behind the possible change in policy and expectations that most have operated under for years. For instance, teachers who don’t have a 7th period often depart for home earlier than 3:45. But they also work on weekends and during vacations such as spring break to complete their work such as grading and planning away from campus. 

At the meeting, many teachers told the board they felt disrespected that such an idea was even brought up by district leaders, most of whom are new this year.  

A mix of teachers from both Los Gatos and Saratoga — including math teachers Kelly Frangieh and Seema Patel, science teacher Cheryl Lenz and English teacher Amy Keys — spoke in favor of the traditional work conditions teachers have known. 

Frangieh said that when teachers have more control over when and what they work on, they feel more organized and are able to manage their own productivity better than when that control is taken away.

“Teachers feel motivated when they have a large measure of control over their lives and are engaged in positive relationships,” Frangieh told the board. “When people are controlled, told what to do and aren’t experiencing positive relationships, their motivation will decrease and they will be crushed.”

Other teachers like Stephanie Pierson, the leadership class advisor from Los Gatos High School, said teachers’ hard work and professionalism demonstrated in past years were completely “disregarded” and “underappreciated” during the negotiations.

“We already [stay at school] until 3:45 p.m.,” she told the board. “That’s not my concern. If you want me to clock in and clock out, I will. It’s the message that goes behind that [is] just simply insulting.”

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