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Monday, December 18, 2000

PHS teachers say schedule should stay

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 18, 2000 - The future of block scheduling at Pecos High School is still in the hand of the district's administrators, the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board said Thursday. But both they and the administrators got an earful from teachers opposed to returning to a more traditional schedule, during the board's regular monthly meeting.

A full house attended the meeting to hear three Pecos High School teachers list the reasons for objecting to a proposed return to the more traditional seven-period schedule the high school eliminated in 1994.

Reading from a prepared statement, PHS teacher Jamie Crisp outlined the types of schedules the district has used for the past 45 years, and the disputes between P-B-T administration and the teachers over schedules during the past few years.

Crisp complained that Superintendent Don Love "had not met with the high school faculty or parents and students to discuss scheduling as of the Dec. 4 CIC (Campus Improvement Committee) meeting, yet he told community members that there was going to be a change. Mr. (assistant superintendent Gome) Olibas has told faculty members from other campuses that a change to a traditional schedule is a certainty for next year."

Crisp said a return to the old schedule would affect a number of courses and activities at PHS, including advance placement classes, honors classes, concurrent classes through Odessa College, and the PEP parenting program, tech-prep classes and extracurricular activities. PHS teacher Jeanine Ivy the read off the results of a survey, which showed 44 of 47 teachers, 546 of 565 students and 361 of 371 parents responding to the survey were in favor of maintaining the current modified block scheduling.

Board member David Flores had questions about the way the survey was handled. "How can we sent parents a survey on why we should keep the schedule against others when you sent them nothing to compare it with?" he asked.

"We thought since most of you went (to school) under a traditional schedule you would understand," said PHS teacher Joan Capshaw.

The block schedule combines extended 90-minute classes, which meet only certain days of the week with shorter 45-minute periods, which meet daily in the first and final periods. There are a total of eight periods per day, compared with six in the traditional schedule the district is looking at returning to next year.

Love and other school administrators have said a return to the traditional schedule was needed at the high school to help improve test scores, with English II and geometry singled out as problem areas later in the meeting.

The teachers said overall there was no problem with scores under the current block scheduling plan. PHS teacher Barbara Scown passed out a list of TAAS test results for the district from earlier this year, and said, "In most all areas the 2000 scores were higher than the 1999 test scores. Even though in some areas this is a small increment, it still shows improvement.

"This increment may change from as little as .08 percent in students passing all areas to as much as 24.2 percent in Hispanic students passing Algebra I end of course. In fact, our math scores are one of the highest in the region," she said, adding that the district's most serious test score drops were connected with past changes in schedules.

PHS principal Danny Rodriguez said he talked with the CIC on Dec. 4 and discussed their complaints, and told the board they had looked at the possibility of splitting Second Period into two 45-minute sections, in order to allow more daily class time for the subjects that were considered problem areas for PHS students.

"I don't think I've had maybe a night's sleep," Rodriguez said. "I hope this schedule brings us to work on the TAAS scores. We have an excellent faculty and I believe they can do the job."

Board member Brent Shaw said he had looked at studies posted on the Texas Education Association's website on the effects of block scheduling on high school students.

"The summary of the report is how effectively students and teachers engage in the learning process is more important than class time," Shaw said. "For some subjects, it would be nice to have kids in class everyday.

"If we can have two classes a day meet every day it may be possible to have the best of both worlds," he said.

"The chair feels that the consensus of the board is this is an administration matter," said board president Louis Matta. "We've resisted politicizing this," he said, explaining why the board had directed the matter back to Love and Rodriguez.

"We want it worked out so as many people win as possible," Matta added.

Both he and teachers had complaints relating to the dispute over the block schedules. Matta said rumors that the modified schedule would result in classes with 50 students apiece were wrong, while teachers complained that a document circulated by Olibas on the use of conference period time by PHS faculty was defamatory.

"The Pecos High School faculty strongly objects to the compilation of distribution of this chart," teacher Priss McNutt said.

Crisp said Love had complained two years ago to the CIC that high school teachers were not teaching as much as elementary school teachers, which was not fair. McNutt said Olibas' chart on teacher class time failed to take into account the other non-class time activities related to school events that the high school teachers took part in.

"We do not take lightly the defamation of our professional reputations," she said.

"I don't think his intent was malicious. He wasn't intending to deceive anyone," Matta said about Olibas later in the meeting.

Olibas was out of town for most of Thursday, after his daughter's car hit a deer near Andrews. He returned for the final few minutes of the school board meeting, about 90 minutes after the discussion over block scheduling ended and the majority of the audience departed.

Friday gasoline tank rupture forces Balmorhea evacuation

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 18, 2000 - Employees and customers at Juan Carrasco's Mercantile in Balmorhea, along with residents in nearby homes, were evacuated Friday afternoon due to a gasoline spill from an above ground tank.

Reeves County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Gonzalez said the spill occurred at about 2:47 p.m., on Friday outside the store, about a half mile east of Balmorhea on Highway 17.

Gonzalez said one of the tanks ruptured spilling about 2,500 gallons of gasoline onto the ground.

"We're not sure what happened," he said. "We don't know if it was poor maintenance on the tanks or just old tanks."

Gonzalez said Reeves County Health and Sanitation Director Armando Gil was also called to the scene and vehicles were ordered not to operate in the area to avoid any sparks that could ignite the pool of gasoline.

All traffic going in and out of Balmorhea was detoured off of Highway 17 on the east side of town. Through traffic was routed along FM 2903 in Balmorhea to Interstate 10 while evacuation of the immediate surrounding areas began.

The Texas Department of Transportation was also called in to lay sand on the spilled gas.

"We had it under control within a couple of hours," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he is continuing an investigation on the spill.

One injured in accident on Saturday

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 18, 2000 - The Pecos Police Department along with Pecos Emergency Medical Service and Volunteer Fire Department personnel were called to the scene of a two-vehicle accident at Pecan and A streets Saturday night

The accident occurred at 10:52 p.m., on Saturday when a 1979 Pontiac Bonniville driven by Raymond Rayos, 52 hit a 1999 Ford 2-door driven by Lorina Carrasco.

Police Investigator Kelly Davis said Rayos was traveling west on A Street alongside the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, while Carrasco was traveling south on Pecan and when the crash occurred.

He said Rayos hit Carrasco on the left side of her vehicle as the Ford entered the intersection. The car was spun around and came to rest facing northeast on the northeast corner of the intersection.

Fire personnel and the Jaws of Life were called to the scene to help free the driver's side door on the car to remove Carrasco from the vehicle. Ambulance personnel then transported her to Reeves County Hospital with minor injuries while Rayos was uninjured.

TxDOT moves Odessa Region licensing office

PECOS, December 18, 2000 - The Texas Department of Transportation's regional licensing office in Odessa has moved to a new location, at 3901 E. Highway 80, from its former site at Central Drive off Eighth Street.

The office will be open daily beginning today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The new phone number is 915-498-4674 and the new fax number is 915-498-4673.

The move does not affect vehicle registering and titling in the 15-county Odessa area, which will still be handled by each county's tax assessor-collector's office. It does affect persons seeking certified copies of original titles, appointed registration for motor carriers, permits and assigned numbers.

The office also issues exempt license plated to counties, school districts and state offices.


Juanita Matta
Doyle Reed
Mildred Rousseau


PECOS, December 18, 2000 - High Sunday 73. Low this morning 43. Cloudy. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Low around 20. West wind 5 to 15 mph. Tuesday: Sunny. High near 55. Southwest wind 10 to 20 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy. Low around 20. Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High near 65.

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