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Unraveling the Colt Time conundrum

SIERRA VISTA — A dedicated time during the school day to help Buena High students struggling with their classes has been blamed for having negative consequences, but reaction to a change in schedules is now causing confusion about the time allotment with students, teachers and parents.

When students returned to school in the fall, “Colt Time,” a 30-minute time allotment for enrichment and reteach, was in effect after third hour, which it had been for the last three years. But when they came back to school on Tuesday after the Veterans Day holiday, the time was moved to the end of the day.

Buena High School Principal Kristen Hale said the sudden change was made with the best interest of the students in mind, because more and more students needed the extra help in math and English. “Colt Time” was first implemented throughout the Sierra Vista Unified School District in 2016 so teachers could have time to help students struggling with certain concepts.

Roughly a month and a half ago, this time was removed at the high school. Hale said the freeze came after the school’s student resource officer told her they were experiencing and “increase in illegal activity” during that time, since students were wandering the halls instead of going to the class or teacher they were supposed to.

“Safety has to be our number one priority,” Hale said.

For the time being, the only reteach subjects will be English and math as those are the subjects that most students need help in. Hale said she currently has 28 math and English teachers, and all will be utilized for the reteach classes. The teachers will meet to go over all the students results of their common formative assessments.

The students who are struggling the most, according to the data, will be pulled from their assigned enrichment class for reteach. Students will be in their reteach class for a minimum of two weeks, and all the classes will be capped at 17 pupils.

“The biggest complaint I received from parents and teachers (about the time) was there was no way to take formal attendance,” Hale said. “Now students are permanently assigned enrichment class. If they have a seventh hour class, they were assigned Colt Time.”

She noted only 338 students at Buena do not have a seventh hour class, so they were not placed because they leave early. These students are able to return to campus if they need help or select the time for reteach as an assigned class.

Many parents voiced their concerns on social media. Becky Aton, who has a daughter at Buena, and other parents questioned why the change was made in the middle of the semester.

“Why mess with it in the middle of the semester,” Aton told the Herald/Review. “It makes no sense.”

Hale told the Herald/Review she didn’t want to wait because she has parents and students asking her when they are going to reinstate Colt Time because they need and want the extra help.

Making the change now was not their first choice, Hale said, but it had to be done. “If we’re truly focused on (our) students ... why not change when we know it will work.”

In an effort to minimize the number of students who had their schedule changes, Hale said all of the students who had lunch during fourth hour were switched to sixth hour and fourth hour became a class for all students.

Now, instead of three lunch periods, there are two. Hale said she spoke with the cafeteria staff after seeing concerns about there not being enough food for the increased number of students, and was assured there was plenty of time and food for everyone to eat.

Another concern that swirled on social media was about lunch being too late, as they were pushed back by more than an hour. Hale said students are able to bring snacks to have in between classes, and moving forward they are going to try and give students with zero hour the earlier lunch if possible.

The change didn’t go as smooth as Hale and administrators would have liked on Tuesday. Students were held in their third period class longer than expected because counselors were printing off new schedules. Hale said students were kept in their classrooms for roughly 35 to 45 minutes while schedules were being printed.

New schedules had to be printed because counselors found that on many schedules, their fourth hour and fifth hour classes didn’t switch, so students didn’t know where to go. In order to prevent students from wandering in the halls, they were kept with their teacher until the new schedules were ready.

Hale said the next step is to have students choose their enrichment classes to be something they look forward to going to at the end of the day. If administrators feel they can make it happen this year, they will implement it.

“I want to see all students have confidence in their core content area classes,” Hale said when asked what the goal of “Colt Time” is. “And that (confidence) would flow out into other classes.”

Hale encourages parents to reach out to her if they have any questions about the new schedule.


Community
centerpiece
MAKING CHANGES: Response positive at West End development open house

SIERRA VISTA — The public was given a view of the West End’s future on Wednesday evening at two open houses that allowed people to interact with designers and planners of the long-envisioned downtown.

The massive project, aptly called the West Fry Boulevard/North Garden Avenue Improvement Project, includes the redesign of a section of West Fry Boulevard and North Garden Avenue using a “complete streets” approach.

That means building a thoroughfare that is user friendly to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. A complete street also incorporates public-friendly amenities — benches, gathering areas and lighting — that will enhance the business district, city officials said.

City officials have said the project is fully funded by federal and state dollars, awarded to Sierra Vista specifically for the improvement of West Fry Boulevard and North Garden Avenue. The design phase of the project is expected to cost $400,000; about $2.35 million has been budgeted for the construction phase.

Since 2013, when the city launched the “Dream Your City” project, which sought public input for the Vista 2030: General Plan, residents have expressed the desire for a downtown area where they could walk to cafes, shops and entertainment.

One resident and business owner who attended Wednesday’s open house, said he usually leaves Sierra Vista on the weekends with his girlfriend to go to the downtowns of other communities.

“That’s money that could be spent right here in Sierra Vista,” said George Broxton, a Sierra Vista native and owner of Broxton’s Coffee on East Fry Boulevard.

The open houses, held at the Sierra Suites on West Fry Boulevard, were well-attended, said city spokesman Adam Curtis, with about 50 people coming to each two-hour session. There were five or six stations with renderings of how the improvements would look.

The public could stop and chat with Karen Lamberton, the executive director of the Sierra Vista Metropolitan Planning Organization and members of the EPS Group, an engineering and design firm retained by the city that specializes in streetscape renovation projects.

The city also has retained the Gordley Group, a communications firm that specializes in public communications for construction projects.

The improvement area is West Fry Boulevard, from North Garden Avenue to Seventh Street, and parts of North Garden Avenue. The current phase one will impact a small portion of North Garden Avenue and West Fry Boulevard from North Garden Avenue to Carmichael Avenue, city officials said.

Ardent “West Ender” Rosie Mackey, a Sierra Vista resident since 1980 and a member of the city’s West End Commission, was pleased with what she saw at the open house.

“I think it’s awesome,” Mackey said. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. It’s part of the redevelopment district of the city. It’s going to bring more people into the city. They’re gonna want to come to the west end to see what we’re doing and how we’re doing. They’ll have a place to sit and visit.”

U.S. Army veteran Larry McKim, a resident since 1989, also said he liked what he saw from the presentation and plans.

“This is outstanding because we’re giving the public a way to feed to the council what they want,” McKim said. “It’s been 13 years since we were first presented with this idea, but we never had the money to do it. Now it looks like we have enough money to kick off this first phase.”

“It looks like this is going to happen,” McKim said.

Broxton said he is all for revamping the city’s West End: “If you want to build community, if you want people to have a sense of belonging, (you have to give people) an area where they can all get together for different things.”

Renderings of the plans can be viewed at sierravistaaz.gov/fryforward.