Middle schools find schedule solutions in Anne Arundel

November 18, 2001|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,SUN STAFF

If they must make midyear schedule changes - and they'd really rather not - most Anne Arundel County middle schools will add a short period to the school day to shoehorn children into the physical education and fine arts classes the state requires.

The 30-minute period will probably come at the top of the day, and it will come at some cost to other classes, which will lose five to seven minutes each.

But the extra period avoids the massive schedule shake-up that so many parents, administrators and students had feared. Under the plan, pupils will not be moved out of classes they are taking this semester.

"Students chose the courses they did because they really wanted them," said Lindale Middle School Principal Charles Dunlap. "To remove them when they're meeting [the state requirements] seemed unfair and sent the wrong message."

Anne Arundel's 19 middle schools are being forced to make the midyear changes by the State Board of Education, which decided that all sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders must take fine arts and physical education every year.

For almost three decades, Anne Arundel has offered those courses as electives. But the state board said that violates state law, and that the policy must change by February.

The Anne Arundel school system last week asked for a delay in implementing the requirements. Because of the hardship of making midyear changes, the system asked if it could put off the changes until next fall.

The state board will take up the extension request at its meeting Dec. 4 and 5, said board spokesman Ron Peiffer.

Meanwhile, the county's middle school principals were given three options to rejigger the schedules. About 8,500 of the county's 17,800 middle school students are not taking physical education or fine arts.

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