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The Davenport School Board will hear the pros and cons and "facts and figures" of the current block schedule versus a traditional schedule at district high schools as it considers possible budget reductions.

Looking at the different high school schedules, scheduled for the board's Oct. 6 meeting, is just one of a number of budget reduction options the board could consider when it approves the budget for the 2015-16 school year in the spring.

District officials estimate that a traditional schedule, which consists of seven 50-minute classes a day, versus a block schedule of four 90-minute classes each day, could save about $1.1 million to $1.4 million annually.

Superintendent Art Tate told the board during Monday night's meeting that a decision on whether to stick with the block schedule or switch to a traditional schedule needs to be made in November to give the district time to prepare for the 2015-16 school year.

Over the last several months, the board has discussed possible budget reductions to reach its goal of building up the district's unspent balance to $8 million by the 2016-17 school year.

Spending authority is based on enrollment and the funding level set by the state. It applies only to the general fund, which pays for such things as salaries, building utilities, supplies, equipment and instructional materials.

The unspent balance carries over to the next school year and can be used in emergency situations. District officials have projected that the unspent balance will be down to $250,000 at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

The board approved $2 million in cuts in the 2013-14 school year and $3.24 million in cuts in the 2012-13 school year.

Block scheduling has been used at the three high schools since 2006.

In block scheduling, teachers have three instructional periods and a total of about 75 students. In the traditional schedule, teachers will have six periods and a total of about 150 students.

According to the district, some pros and cons of the block schedule include: less time for passing between classes; less time for interventions for struggling students; higher impact of student absence; opportunity for students to take more electives; and the need for the district to buy fewer textbooks.

Some pros and cons of a traditional schedules include: daily absences have less impact on students; more time available for interventions; students take fewer electives; classes run all year and there is no gap in instruction; double the amount of textbooks will be needed; and time for study hall period will be available.

Under the current schedule, there are 221 full-time teachers. If the district opts for a traditional schedule, that number could be reduced to 198 full-time teachers. 

Board member Nikki DeFauw said she was reluctant to build more curriculum time into the school day just to create a “place holder” for study hall.

Rob Scott, executive director of school support and instructional leadership, agreed and said the study hall period could be available to students only when needed or if a parent strongly requests it.

North High School student board member Bennett Robertson told the board that the block schedule has been beneficial for the music department and allows students the chance to practice for a longer period of time.

West High School student board member Olivia Grubbs said that the block schedule is more efficient for students, especially when it comes to foreign language and Advanced Placement (AP) classes.

Also Monday, the board re-elected Ralph Johanson as president and elected Rich Clewell as vice president. Ken Krumwiede, who has served on the board since 2006 and was vice president for three years, declined the nomination Monday, saying that he does not intend to run for re-election when his term is up next year.

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