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HHS class schedule could change

Proposal intended
to reduce expenses

Staff writer

Superintendent Steve Noble presented the possibility of switching Hillsboro High School from a block class schedule to a daily class schedule Monday to USD 410 Board of Education.

Currently HHS students take eight classes: four on Monday and Wednesday, four others on Tuesday and Thursday, and all eight on Friday. That system allows 88 minutes in each class except on Friday.

With the concept presented Monday, students would have eight classes every day for about 48 minutes each. The change would necessitate lengthening the school day, probably by 20 to 30 minutes, Noble said.

The change could save the district money in a couple of ways, he said. The change would allow for the high school and middle school to operate on the same schedule, which would allow for more sharing of staff between the schools.

The longer school day would also allow the district to shorten the school year five to 10 days without reducing instruction time. Noble said the district could save about $3,000 for each day cut from the school year. Most of the savings would be from personnel savings.

Finding major cost savings is essential for the district, because between proposed state aid cuts, expected enrollment decline, and increased expenses, the district needs to reduce expenditures by about $550,000, Noble said. The district may even have to reduce staff.

“We can’t nickel and dime that kind of a cut,” he said.

Two negative consequences of shifting to a daily schedule were identified. It could hurt project-based and experiential learning to have shorter class periods, and students could face “homework overload” if they had assignments due in all of their classes the same day, Noble said.

The number of sections of some classes could be reduced from three to two, as well, resulting in larger class sizes.

HHS Principal Max Heinrichs said conversations with teachers about the possible change were limited.

Another cost-saving measure was approved Monday. Transportation Director Keith Goossen presented a revised vehicle replacement plan, which will delay bus replacement. The district usually replaces buses when they have about 150,000 miles on them. With the revised plan, most buses would be replaced at 165,000 miles.

Goossen said there were two buses he wasn’t comfortable delaying replacement: an activity bus and a special education bus. Students often return from activities at night, and he wouldn’t want the bus to break down at night. The special education bus doesn’t have a proper backup, he added.

With the revised replacement plan, the district can expect to save an average of $35,000 per year for the next five years. That is approximately one mill of property taxes.

Board members Gary Andrews and Mark Rooker were appointed to a budget advisory committee that will try to identify and prioritize other potential budget cuts. The committee also includes teachers, administrators, and other staff members.

In other business:

  • An amendment to the HHS dress code was approved. The proposal, presented by student body president Jake Wiebe in January, will allow students more opportunities to wear shorts to school. The previous policy forbade shorts from Sept. 1 to May 1. Shorts must still meet several standards of appropriateness, which Heinrichs said he would address with students.
  • The district agreed to join an interlocal cooperation agreement with Marion County and the City of Hillsboro regarding Hillsboro’s tax increment finance district. The agreement gives the board veto power on the use of TIF funding for any additional projects in the TIF district, which includes the former AMPI building and Hillsboro Business Park.
  • District vehicles were used about 19,000 miles fewer in the fall semester compared to fall 2009, Goossen reported.
  • Contract extensions for Heinrichs, Hillsboro Middle School Principal Greg Brown, and Hillsboro Elementary School Principal Evan Yoder were approved following an 18-minute closed session. The extensions last until June 30, 2013.
  • The board met in closed session for 42 minutes to discuss negotiations. No action was taken on return to open session.

The next scheduled board meeting is March 14.

Last modified Feb. 17, 2011

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