Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School Schedule Plan Spurs Parents' Calls

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School Schedule Plan Spurs Parents' Calls

Article excerpt

A typical high school day in Duval County public schools will

likely look different next year, as school system administrators

study options to change daily class schedules.

And the ideas on the table -- such as sending students to four

or six classes a day, instead of seven -- have prompted many

parents to call School Board members to vent their concerns.

Change is necessary because the state does not provide enough

money to fully cover the current schedule of seven 50-minute

class periods, said Ed Pratt-Dannals, a school system regional

administrator who's been studying the issue.

That means the district must pull about $4 million each year

from other areas, including elementary and middle schools, to

provide even "bare bones" high school budgets, Pratt-Dannals

said.

"It's becoming increasingly difficult to operate financially,"

he said. In addition, school system projections show high school

enrollment rising over the next several years.

Ann Barrett, who has two children in middle school, said she

doesn't want them to be subjected to a scheduling "experiment."

"It's tried and true," she said of the current seven-period

day. "They've been doing it for all these years, and it's been

effective."

Other parents are concerned their children may have less time

for electives, such as band or art, under a different schedule.

They fear parents will be excluded from discussions.

Among the scheduling options being considered: switching to a

schedule with six hourlong class periods or to a "block

schedule" where students attend four class periods of 90 minutes

each.

Since 1991, the state has fully funded the six-period day and

it's the schedule most favored in other large school systems in

Florida, Pratt-Dannals said.

He estimated the school system could save $10 million by

switching all high schools to a six-period day and between $3

million and $5 million with a switch to block schedules.

The savings are largely due to a reduction in teachers needed

with fewer classes.

Interim School Superintendent Donald Van Fleet said Duval

County has stuck with a seven-period day largely because that's

what parents wanted. …

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