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Jefferson school officials weigh schedule changes
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JEFFERSON — Although no decisions have been made, Jefferson City Schools officials are considering adjusting the class schedule for high school students.

Students will remain on block schedules for the next school year; however, administrators are considering transitioning back to period schedules.

“In all honesty, one of the reasons we got off the seven-period day was because we had so many kids moving out of Gwinnett (County) to Jefferson and they were coming from a four-by-four block and we experienced some difficulty getting their classes scheduled here,” said Superintendent John Jackson.

“Plus, research said that (switching to a block schedule) could be a good thing for our students.”

According to Pat Blenke, academic reviews are mixed about which schedule system — block or periods — is better for students.

“Research indicates that there are generally positive impacts on student grade point averages in block schedules,” said Blenke, of the Georgia Department of Education.

“However, 74 percent of high schools in Georgia that are a part of the achievement gap intervention from the state are on block schedules.”

Although students have the opportunity to pursue more elective credit options on a block schedule, seven-period schedules allow students to have more overall face time with teachers, Blenke says.

Because seven-period schedules require fewer teachers than block schedules, system officials are considering transitioning as a possible cost-savings measure in the future — as long as academic achievement isn’t compromised. Blenke said with current high school enrollment numbers the system only would need 31 teachers for the period schedule, compared to 35 with block schedules.

Such a reduction could potentially save the system more than $282,000.

Although system officials discussed the possible transition during the recent Jefferson City Schools Board of Education retreat, Jefferson High School Principal Kevin Smith says it isn’t feasible to change schedules at this point in the year. The earliest that students could see a change is during the 2011-12 school year, Smith said.

Switching to a block schedule would decrease the number of staff, but it also would increase class sizes and student-teacher workloads — issues the board and high school administrators are planning to consider.