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District to offer Saturday study sessions

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District to offer Saturday study sessions

Shirin Afrakhteh, Opinions Editor

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Looking to recoup millions of dollars lost each year due to student absences, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District is implementing weekend classes next year.

By having these classes, the district will be able to collect an additional $66 per student in average daily attendance (ADA) money from the state, Superintendent Rich Schmitt said during a press conference with The Californian staff last month.

The district’s new protocol for weekend classes requires at least 15 students to attend the class for four consecutive hours. Teachers will be paid an hourly rate for the classes.

For example, if 20 students attend an AP study session for four hours,  the district would collect nearly $2,000 in ADA money and the teacher would make about $200,

Schmitt said student absences cost the district millions of dollars each year. Coupled with the fact that the district is the third lowest funded in the state, the district is significantly impacted financially.

The Saturday classes system has been in place since the 1970s, and Schmitt said the district piloted the program this year to help make up for lost funding from student absences.

By implementing weekend classes district-wide next year, the district could really increase its state funding, Schmitt said.

These classes have been called a “creative solution” to regaining some of that money lost, as well as taking advantage of district assets, such as classrooms and equipment that generally aren’t being used on Saturdays. 

The district can offer classes on or off campus and still receive ADA money. Classes on Sunday would not be permitted.

Many students speculate that these classes could serve as an alternative to out-of-school tutoring or study sessions for AP testing. Given the high cost of tutoring, and the general culture of competitiveness surrounding these tests, many believe that these weekend classes are a way of leveling the playing field.

“It would definitely be a good opportunity for students, because not everybody can afford lots of tutoring,” said junior Annaka Lee. “I find that self-studying isn’t ideal either. I know a lot of people who would definitely appreciate these classes.”

Others wonder if  encouraging weekend classes will have a negative impact on the mental health of those students already overwhelmed by  AP classes. 

“The whole culture of AP classes and AP tests can be toxic and destructive,” said junior Zahra Kadir. “While I like to think that it would be a good opportunity for kids who can’t afford tutoring, it definitely has the potential to turn into another stressful expectation for AP students.”

This is particularly topical considering holding extra classes goes directly against the “anti-stress” campaign the district has been promoting the last few years. 

This movement encouraged students to take fewer AP  – no more than two is recommended – and teachers to reduce the amount of homework assigned for non-AP classes. 

“What we’re doing is to give you more options,” Schmitt said of the weekend sessions. “I believe that more choices will reduce stress.”

Schmitt explained that Saturday classes are not meant to be particularly rigorous. They’re not designed to have homework or be an extension of a class, but rather simply serve as a space where students can take advantage of school resources. 

But considering how quickly students at competitive schools like Cal take advantage of opportunities like this, many students wonder how long it will take for weekend classes to go from something optional to something that is expected of AP students.  

“It feels like the whole thing is geared toward students like me, who are already pushing themselves really hard in school,” said Kadir. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned into something most AP students do.”

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District to offer Saturday study sessions