Weekly Feature

2012-03-15 / Education

Lucky number seven?

EAHS discusses cutting one period from school day

Hoagland Hoagland To deal with possible reductions in the teaching staff, East Aurora High School is looking into cutting the school day from eight periods to seven.

The first draft of the 2012-13 district budget, unveiled at the March 7 School Board meeting, calls for 8.6 full-time equivalents to be cut from the high school staff out of 13.2 FTEs proposed for elimination districtwide.

According to EAHS Principal James Hoagland, 50 percent of the proposed staffing cuts at the high school level would need to be restored in order to keep an eight-period day, since a smaller staff would mean fewer people to teach classes.

“I don’t want to warehouse students in study halls,” he said. “Without the teachers, we can still offer the courses, but they’ll be no one available to teach them.”

The high school administrative staff is currently “struggling” with the issue of scheduling, as Hoagland put it. He said the high school could possibly still see eight periods per day, but it would also quite possibly mean fewer electives offered and larger class sizes.

Several district parents expressed concern at the meetings that their children would either not be able to take a chosen elective or have to choose between two electives offered during the same time slot.

Board member Stephen Zagrobelny asked Russ Hoagland if the move to seven periods was “pre-emptive or necessary.”

Hoagland said he can’t really tell until the students have noted their first- and second-choice electives and administrators have developed the schedule for the next school year. He added that core classes could possibly be longer, and advanced placement classes may have to be offered every other school year.

“We could do it [keep eight periods], but my experience tells me we’re not going to like the result,” he said.

Hoagland said that sometimes eight periods aren’t enough when it comes to giving students the electives they choose.

“As an example, we have 19 classes in languages other than English,” he said. “We can squeeze German in, but something else would have to be taken out.”

Some parents have expressed their dismay about the possible cuts to the German program in the district.

District Superintendent Brian Russ told the audience that scheduling at the high school level “is a complicated thing.” He also said, however, that the district will do whatever it can in order to “try and maintain” the eight-period day.

“I, too, care for the school district,” he said. “None of [the budget discussion] has been taken arbitrarily or lightly.”

Russ added that one class translates to roughly two FTEs.

Zagrobelny asked Hoagland if he’d ever considered making course offerings more “accommodating,” such as holding Latin I and II during the same time with the same teacher.

“It is instructionally very difficult to teach more than one class to groups of students in the same classroom,” Hoagland replied.

Board President Daniel Brunson also offered a warning.

“At what point do classes become almost at capacity that the students must choose electives they don’t want?”

email: paulo@beenews.com

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