Centennial Permitted To Keep 7-period Day

County School System Givesok Reluctantly

February 06, 1991|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

Reversing their decision of last summer, county school administrators informed Centennial High School last week that it may continue to offer an arrangement which allows students to add classes in music, art, or similar electives to their academic class load.

Last July, Centennial was ordered to begin phasing out its seven-period model, because the schedule resulted in increased class sizes.

For 13 years, Centennial has allowed students to take a seventh class by skipping lunch break. Many students use the option to fit in elective courses, such as vocal and instrumental music, thereby swelling the size of those classes. Some students use the extra period to make up failed courses.

The county school system had planned tooffer alternate schedules for the 1991-1992 school year, but budget constraints made it impossible to go forward with the new options.

The latest action on the controversial seven-period schedule came ina memo last week from Daniel J. Jett, director of high schools, to Centennial principal Sylvia S. Pattillo.

"This action is being taken reluctantly since I remain very concerned about class sizes at Centennial," wrote Jett. "I am deeply disappointed that an alternative for providing seven classes for high school students who wish to enrollin them, without increasing class sizes for all teachers and students, is not possible at this time."

Student leaders and faculty at Centennial, which has often been recognized for academic excellence, strongly objected to the school system's decision last summer to begin phasing out the popular seven-period option by denying it to freshmanthis school year.

The county school administration had cited increased class size and health concerns in their decision to phase out the extra class option.

Many Centennial parents, students and teachers had unsuccessfully lobbied the school board last year to reverse the order eliminating the school's seventh period.

For the past several months, county school administrators have been considering alternatives that would allow high school students to take seven classes without increasing class size.

The options were scaled back as the school system trimmed its budget. All proposals, however, proved too costly.

A full seven-period day for all high school students wouldcost $2.5 million. An off-hour alternative -- which would allow students to take extra classes before and after school, at night and on weekends -- had a price tag of $1 million.

In December, Superintendent Michael E. Hickey included in his 1991-1992 budget the addition of two teachers to each high school's teaching staff, at a cost of $450,000, to make the seven-period day available without increased classsizes.

"Unfortunately, because of severe budgetary limitations for the 1991-1992 school year, it appears that none of these proposals can be implemented," said Jett in his memo.

If Centennial chooses to continue its seven-period day, the school will receive no additional teaching staff and classes will remain large or increase, said Jett.

"It remains our hope in the future to initiate scheduling options for high school students that will allow them to earn more than six credits per school year without an increase in school-wide class sizes," Jett said in his memo.

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