core Down to the

Slim­ming down school year could save money

The Covington News - - Front page - By Am­ber Pittman apittman@cov­

In an ef­fort to cut at least $9 mil­lion, of­fi­cials with the Newton County School Sys­tem have pro­posed sev­eral cuts to the 2011-2012 bud­get. Be­low is a look at two pro­pos­als, pos­si­ble change to the length of the school day and changes to high school sched­ul­ing, that could po­ten­tially save a lot of cash, but have the most im­pact on par­ents and teach­ers.

You can learn more about the pro­pos­als and oth­ers un­der con­sid­er­a­tion at a ses­sion sched­uled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Al­covy High School au­di­to­rium.

Change high school sched­ul­ing to a sev­en­pe­riod day to in­clude re­me­di­a­tion/ en­rich­ment for stu­dents

Stu­dents at the county’s three high school cur­rently have four class pe­ri­ods per se­mes­ter (18 school weeks). Un­der this rec­om­men­da­tion, they would go from that to a sched­ule with year-long cour­ses and a seven-pe­riod day. All high schools are cur­rently op­er­at­ing on a block sched­ule, mean­ing they have three in­struc­tional pe­ri­ods and one plan­ning pe­riod.

A switch to a sev­en­pe­riod day would elim­i­nate 47 teach­ing po­si­tions in the high schools – 12 at East­side, 17 at Newton and 18 at Al­covy. The cuts could save $2,820,000, since the av- er­age sav­ings for salaries and ben­e­fits is $60,000 per po­si­tion. Al­though adding pe­ri­ods to the day sounds like it would re­quire more teach­ers, Di­rec­tor of Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Sa­man­tha Fuhrey ex­plained that would not be the case.

“In the seven-pe­riod day, the num­ber of seg­ments taught by an in­di­vid­ual teacher in­creased by 50 per­cent,” said Fuhrey. “When

tran­si­tion­ing to the seven-pe­riod day, a sys­tem can ex­pect to uti­lize 13-14 per­cent fewer teach­ers than in a 4-by-4 block.”

A seven-pe­riod day would also al­low for a fo­cus pe­riod for stu­dents who may be strug­gling and in dan­ger of not grad­u­at­ing, ac­cord­ing to Su­per­in­ten­dent Gary Mathews.

“Some stu­dents will take seven classes for credit, while oth­ers will take six for credit and a fo­cus pe­riod to shore up nec­es­sary skills for grad­u­a­tion,” said Mathews. “Ad­vanced stu­dents will have the op­tion of a fo­cus pe­riod for fur­ther prepa­ra­tion/study or a full sched­ule of seven classes, each for credit.”

Ac­cord­ing to Fuhrey, grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ments are iden­ti­fied by the year a stu­dent en­ters ninth grade and when mak­ing a shift to a dif­fer­ent sched­ule, grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ments will re­flect the ap­pro­pri­ate/cur­rent sched­ule, so the change would not have an ad­verse af­fect on stu­dents who have been on a block sched­ule.

Change to the school sched­ule

An­other op­tion are three dif­fer­ent changes to the school sched­ules, each sav­ing a dif­fer­ent amount, rang­ing from over $800,000 to over $350,000.

Four-day school week

If im­ple­mented, this would save $820,000. The school year would be 156 days, with classes held Tues­day through Fri­day. The school day would also be length­ened by 47 min­utes for ele­men­tary school and 56 min­utes for sec­ondary schools. The school sys­tem’s ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices would re­main on a five-day work­week.

158 school days

This op­tion would save $750,000. The school day would be length­ened by roughly 42 min­utes in ele­men­tary and 52 min­utes for sec­ondary.

169 school days

The last op­tion would save the least but would still net the sys­tem a sav­ings of $375,000. The school day would be length­ened by ap­prox­i­mately 20 min­utes for ele­men­tary and 28 min­utes for sec­ondary.

Ac­cord­ing to Mathews, each op­tion would neg­a­tively af­fect cus­to­di­ans, bus driv­ers and food ser­vice work­ers, but not other groups of em­ploy­ees.

Brit­tany Thomas/The Cov­ing­ton News

Sched­ule change: With more than $9 mil­lion to cut from the ed­u­ca­tion bud­get, mem­bers of the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion are look­ing to slim down the school year.

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