Janesville56.3°

Block schedule could be on chopping block at Edgerton High School

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Stacy Vogel
December 11, 2007
— Edgerton School District staff, administration and board members agree that block scheduling improves education at the high school.

A four-period day allows teachers to spend more time with students, offers students more choices and reduces discipline problems, said Brian Donnelly, board president.


But block scheduling might be a luxury that the high school no longer can afford.


Switching from the four-period day back to a traditional seven-period day received the most attention of several ideas that the school board discussed Monday to handle drastic staffing cuts in the next two years.


Superintendent Norm Fjelstad announced the proposed cuts in memos to staff and school board members over the past two weeks. Dropping enrollment and a change in state school funding will force the district to cut $150,000 from maintenance budgets and $50,000 in high school staff in 2008-09, he wrote.


In 2009-10, it must cut $500,000 in staff from the elementary, middle and high schools.


Block scheduling can be expensive because it doesn’t include study halls and offers lots of elective choices to students, Principal Jim Halberg said. The school hired five new staff members when it switched to block scheduling in 1996.


Even though the school has reduced staffing since then, it might be able to save money by going back to traditional scheduling, he said.


“(Block scheduling) is a model we’re going to have to make some adjustments to if we’re going to be able to keep it,” he said.


If the school eliminates block scheduling, it would probably also reduce the requirements for graduation, add study halls, increase class sizes and/or eliminate some electives, Halberg said.


The school faculty plans to form a committee to examine whether block scheduling is a viable option for Edgerton in the future, Halberg said. The answer will either be “no” or “maybe,” he said.


Other ideas discussed Monday to absorb the cuts included:


-- Reducing Advanced Placement classes to semester-long classes or classes that meet every other day.


-- Increasing efficiency in special education.


“We offer a real Cadillac program (for special education) and need to look at that as to ways we can save some money,” Donnelly said.


-- Looking at ways to cut band and choir costs.


Fjelstad will make his recommendations for 2009-10 at his state of the district address Sept. 8, 2008, he said.


He warned the board not to rely on the state to save the district from its budget crisis, even though delays and changes in state funding helped cause it.


“We can’t wait for the Legislature to come in riding on a white horse,” he said. “We’ve got to step up to the plate and deal with reality.”



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