School scheduling change to top agenda at Monday's board work session

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 9, 2014 

The Muscogee County School District administration building is at 2960 Macon Road.

MIKE HASKEY — mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

A proposed high school scheduling change will be the main topic of conversation at tonight's Muscogee County School Board work session.

The meeting is at 5 p.m. in the Public Education Center.

At recent public forums, school superintendent David Lewis said he wants to switch from a block schedule to a seven-period schedule.

According to the school board agenda, during the spring of 2013, a change in high school schedules from an eight-period to a seven-period model was identified as one of the major areas for potential cost savings for the district in order to avoid district-wide work schedule adjustment days.

Although no action was taken at that time, subsequent meetings were held by the district and high school principals to begin the planning for future implementation as warranted.

A total of 15 meetings were held with input and feedback provided by impacted school leadership teams.

Given the district's projected $10 million deficit for the 2014-2015 school year, Lewis is recommending a change in the high school model from an eight-period to a seven-period model to conform to budgetary parameters.

The students will have only four periods per day, Lewis explained earlier this month.

They will have three 90-minute classes that meet every other school day and one 50-minute class that meets every school day. That will total seven courses during the academic year.

The district is preparing for a cut in state funding for

the next fiscal year of between $10 million and $11 million.

This year's budget is $270,596,469. The 4x4 block schedule amounts to eight periods; reducing that to seven periods will enable the district to reduce its high school staff by as much as 15 percent to save $4 million to $4.5 million through attrition and reassignments.

In other business:

• The board will hear a report from the district's Substitute Teacher/Affordable Care Act Task Force.

The force was put together to analyze the issues and options the school district can consider in containing the possible liability in substitute teachers working hours that would qualify them as full time under the Affordable Care Act.

The option being recommended for the 2014-2015 academic year is to limit substitute teachers' hours worked in an academic year to keep them under the average hours that would define them as full time.

One option was to hire some full-time, benefit-holding substitute teachers and limit the rest of the substitute teachers to a number of hours within the academic year.

Another option was to outsource substitute teaching employment to a staffing agency.

• The administration is seeking board approval for the implementation of the Positive Behaviorial Intervention & Supports program to address discipline in schools.

According to the agenda, the program is an evidence- and data-driven framework proven to reduce disciplinary incidents, increase a school's sense of safety, improve school climate and support improved academic outcome for all students.

• The board will hear a school district construction status report as well as reports from Chattahoochee Valley Libraries and the Columbus Museum.

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