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Report: Block schedule would save district money

March 30, 2010

Switching to a block schedule at Elmbrook's high schools could save the school district $375,000 a year by allowing staffing to be reduced by the equivalent of more than six full-time teaching positions, a report released last week says.

The district is considering implementing block scheduling at Brookfield Central and Brookfield East high schools in time for the 2011-12 school year. Under the new format, students would follow a traditional schedule with eight 45-minute classes and a 30-minute lunch period on Mondays, but the other school days would have an alternating schedule with four 80- to 90-minute classes, depending on the day.

All classes would meet three times a week, once for a traditional-length period and twice for a block-length period.

A study team - consisting of principals, teachers and parents from Central and East - met throughout the first semester and unanimously supported the scheduling approach.

Any change would need the approval of the teachers union and the Elmbrook School Board. The report says if an agreement cannot be reached by May 1, the district should push the change to the 2012-13 school year.

Teachers would add class

In a block schedule, teachers would teach six out of eight class periods, an increase from the five required now. With instructors teaching more periods, about three fewer full-time equivalent positions would be needed per school, the report says.

Using a figure of $82,160 in salary and benefits for each full-time equivalent in 2011-12, that translates to a savings of about $525,000.

However, the report says, the new schedule would no longer require teachers to supervise in scenarios including study halls and lunch periods, so additional full- and part-time supervisors would be needed at each school. That would cost about $150,000, making the total savings about $375,000 annually.

The district also anticipates a one-time expense of $125,000 in the 2010-11 school year for staff development related to implementing the new schedule.

Attention span questioned

Brookfield East senior Rachel Otten said she thinks the proposed schedule likely would benefit classes like chemistry, because longer periods would allow students to complete a laboratory assignment in one session rather than stretching it out over two days.

Still, Otten said, she can foresee some students have trouble paying attention for an entire 90-minute class period.

"I wouldn't change (the schedule) because I think it's fine the way it is," she said.

Aside from the financial savings, the proposed schedule would allow students to enroll in up to eight classes per semester, one more than they can take now.

ONLINE

A copy of the report and a sample block schedule can be found at

elmbrookschools.org.

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