Board Seeks More Options For Schools

State Sets Stringent Graduationstandards

December 05, 1991|By Dianne Williams Hayes | Dianne Williams Hayes,Staff writer

Stringent graduation requirements proposed by the state Board of Education has county school board members scrambling for ways to allow more course options for students, including the introduction of a seven-period day.

Anne Arundel County is one of six school systems in the state still operating under a six-period day.

"I think the seven-period day has a lot of educational value," said Nancy Gist, a member of the county board during its meeting yesterday.

The state proposal for changes in its graduation requirementsis scheduled to be voted on Dec. 18. If approved, 20 of the 21 course credits required of county students would be in courses specified by the state.

The plan to add another class period would be included in the 1992 operating budget request, at a cost of $6 million to maintain the 22.5-to-1 student-teacher ratio. The county would need to hire 137 teachers ($5.6 million) while spending $430,575 for materials of instruction.

Each teacher would have to be in class for five periods, with a sixth serving for planning and a seventh set aside for training or work on extracurricular activities.

A cheaper proposal to extend course options does not call for hiring more teachers, but would shorten the length of each period and increase the number ofstudents per course.

"They are two extreme options," Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Cheryl Wilhoyte told the board. "We haveto look somewhere in between."

Tom Paolino, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, said he favors the $6 million plan.

"Our position remains the same," Paolino said. "I do support the seven-period day, but with teachers having five classes. With MSPP (Maryland School Performance Program), there are more writing assignments being done. There's a tremendous amount of work to be graded by somebody.

"I hope you will consider the workload and amount of stress," he told the board.

Citizens Advisory Committee Chairwoman Anne Young said "a number of parents are very concerned about the limited options if the new requirements are put in place. I would like to see more choices. Students have asked if they could give up their lunch periods to pick up an elective."

Board Vice President Vince Leggett warned that school employees must be willing to give up something before more money can be added to a tight budget.

"I'm in favor of the seven-period day, but we have to talk choices and trade-offs," Leggett said. I think we have to find some things to come off the list."

The 37-page study assessing the need to add a class period is 2 years old, but is being reconsidered because of the state proposal. The board will vote on the plan at a later meeting.

The report noted several advantages to the seven-period day:

* More opportunity for electives.

* More opportunity for counseling and support.

* Pursuit of more challenging courses and the opportunity to earn 24 credits.

* Increased lab time.

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