Hall County’s high school students will soon move to a seven-period school schedule.
The Hall County School Board, which has considered for weeks the idea of moving away from the current block scheduling system, voted unanimously Monday to change the schedule for all of its high schools beginning in the 2010-11 school year.
School officials call the newly approved schedule more fiscally responsible than block scheduling, and say it is better equipped to meet the needs of high school students.
The county’s high schools currently operate on a block schedule that is designed to allow students to take four courses in the fall semester and four new courses in the spring semester.
The seven-period model will reduce the number of courses students can take each year from eight to seven, but will allow for an additional 15 hours of instruction in each course, according to a news release from the school system.
In December, Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield estimated the new schedule would allow high schools to operate with about 35 fewer teachers, which annually saves the district about $2.5 million.
"The seven-period day is a much more efficient model," Schofield said.
On Monday, Schofield said that "in these economic times" the block schedule was the least efficient school schedule in terms of using personnel effectively.
While he said a number of factors contributed to the decision to change the schedule, the economic reason was the most powerful.
"This was the time to make the change," Schofield said.
But he said the new schedule would not mean layoffs for the district’s teachers. Instead, Schofield expects natural attrition will account for staff reductions at the district’s high schools, and some high school teachers may be redirected to middle school positions.
He said 35 to 50 high school teachers typically leave the system or retire each year.
Although the new schedule is set to begin in August, some math and foreign language courses will still be offered in "blocks" to allow students to take Advanced Placement courses in those subjects, Schofield said. Dual enrollment courses also will still be offered in blocks.
In a recent districtwide survey, the seven-period day schedule was supported by 86 percent of more than 500 high school teachers who work in the system, school officials said.
Jessica Jordan contributed to this report.