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Edgerton will fight to keep block scheduling

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Stacy Vogel
January 15, 2008
— Edgerton High School staff will do everything possible to hold onto block scheduling amid deep budget cuts in coming years, Principal Jim Halberg told the Edgerton School Board on Monday.

After hearing about the necessity for cuts from Superintendent Norm Fjelstad in December, the board started delving into the logistics of cutting up to 12 staff members by 2010, including what will happen to the high school schedule.


The district needs to cut $150,000 in maintenance costs and $50,000 in staff in 2008-09, Fjelstad announced in early December. It has to cut $500,000 in staff in 2009-10. Fjelstad blamed the cuts on changes in state education funding and dropping enrollment in the district.


The cuts will be felt most at the high school—$50,000 in staff cuts in 2008-09 and $200,000 in 2009-10. High school enrollment is expected to drop 17 percent in the next four years.


Halberg and his staff already have begun studying alternatives to the school's block scheduling system, in which students attend four 88-minute classes instead of seven shorter classes.


The block schedule tends to be more expensive than traditional schedules because it's harder to arrange and requires more teaching staff. Students receive 28 credits by graduation, instead of as few as 21.5 in other districts, Halberg said.


The model also doesn't offer study halls.


"That makes it much more difficult to balance a class schedule," Halberg said.


But the high school faculty believes block scheduling offers greater educational opportunities, he said.


"Our staff has a great deal of investment; they've learned how to teach within the block, and they really want to save the block schedule," he said.


The school probably will keep block scheduling in a modified form after the cuts, Halberg said. For example, the school could offer "skinny" classes that last half as long as typical block classes to offer flexible scheduling, he said.


With the staff cuts, students might not be able to get their first-choice classes, Fjelstad said. The school will have to decide which classes to cut—and which teachers to lay off—before students can choose their schedules, meaning those schedules automatically will be more limited.


"Either way you slice it ... you still have to predetermine what's available and what's not available," Fjelstad said.


The school will use 2008-09 as a chance to examine its policies and procedures, Halberg said. After creating student schedules for the next school year, staff will examine different scenarios and see what it could have done differently.


"Don't look for a lot of changes for next year," Halberg said.


If you go

What: The Edgerton School Board will continue to learn about block scheduling at the high school at its next meeting. Lori VanHimbergen, director of pupil services, also will discuss how the district handles special-needs students.


When: 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28.


Where: Edgerton School District Office, 200 Elm High Drive, Edgerton.



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