Franklin Regional schools may drop a period

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The Franklin Regional school board will vote Nov. 19 on a proposed high school class schedule change that would mean seven periods of instruction, rather than eight, each day.

The length of the school day would remain the same: opening bell at 7:18 a.m. and dismissal at 2:18 p.m.

Before the vote, directors will consider comments made by some parents during a school board meeting Oct. 15 and at a recent town hall meeting.

Many of the nearly 100 in the audience at the Oct. 24 session were against the proposal, fearing that it would limit elective and academic choices for students. Some parents commented that they feared that students who needed extra help would not be able to get it.

The board introduced -- then tabled -- the schedule change proposal at its Oct.15 meeting.

High school principal Ronald Suvak said test scores in recent years caused administrators to look at the class changes.

"Our scores have been flat for going on 10 years ... they don't compare favorably to districts of similar demographics ... when given the opportunity to look at this, we did so."

He added that the proposed schedule would provide teachers with what he claimed was "additional" access to students during the school day.

Currently, students who require help with lessons arrange meetings with their teacher before or after school or during a study hall if their schedules are compatible.

"The bell schedule doesn't change at all in a seven-period day," Mr. Suvak said.

Rather, the current three-section lunch period would be considered quality resource time. All study halls would be scheduled for that time.

Parent Jeanette Mallick-Kramer asked how teachers are going to manage all students who need help in just one period.

Mr. Suvak said a team of teachers for a particular area would identify certain needs and target their resources based on those student needs. If a student fails to show up for extra help during the quality resource time, it would be considered a class cut.

Parent Diane Roote commented that at its last meeting, board members wanted to make sure that 20 percent of the band didn't quit because it did not fit in the new schedule.

"I can assure you whether we're in a seven-period day or an eight-period day ... any student at Franklin Regional who wants band, gets band. It is the first thing that goes into their schedule," Mr. Suvak said.

He also noted that every effort will be made to get all students the electives of their choice.

"The plan is to have a handful of classes, various world language and performance music classes, during that time," Mr. Suvak said.

education - neigh_east - neigh_westmoreland

Laurie Bailey, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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