Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Dec. 23, 2002

6-period day gets complaints in LP

By Julie Yurek

The Lester Prairie School Board discussed the pros and cons between the current six period school day and a traditional seven period school day at last Monday's meeting.

Board members Nancy Krull and Bob Carlson have heard comments lately how students who want to take band, choir, Spanish, etc. are having difficulty because they must choose between those interests and college-prep classes.

For students who want to take part in an optional class like band or choir, it was taken during a study hall period.

Now, however, since there are no study halls, students must choose between required classes and optional ones, or even between optional classes, since scheduling may conflict band or choir with a foreign language, for example.

In order to take the kinds of classes a student wants, it may mean that the student come to school at 7:30 a.m., said Dean of Students Joe Miller.

"Most don't want to do that, but it is an option," Miller said.

Lester Prairie High School is probably one of few schools that does not offer study hall, Miller said.

Study hall was abandoned in the 1999-2000 school year because of two reasons, Miller said.

"One reason was to get rid of study hall because few students actually used it, and the other was because we had a reduction in staff," he said. "We had a big bubble that moved through in the previous year."

"We haven't taken away classes," Miller said. "Some elective classes may fall in the same time slot, so students have to choose which one they want."

Only a few people raised concern when the board decided to do away with study hall, Miller said. Since the decision, he hasn't heard much from the public, he said.

"Is having a six-period day a budgetary thing?" Krull asked.

"A six-period day was not necessarily about the budget. It was more about staffing and study halls," Miller replied.

However, adding a seventh period back to the school day would be a budgetary issue, Supt. James Redfield said.

An example of increased costs is if a teacher conducts a class instead of a study hall in a seven-period day, the teacher will get paid more, Redfield said.

Increased staff such as paralegals to cover study halls would possibly be necessary, he said.

Since the removal of study halls, teachers were to dedicate 10 to 15 minutes at the end of a class for students to work on homework, Krull said.

She has heard that some teachers are not giving students that time, she said.

"Can the staff at least look into that issue?" she asked.

"We will look into that," Miller replied.

As for the scheduling conflicts related to the current school day, "we try to accommodate students," Miller said. "Flexibility in schedules is one thing that is missing."

A few classes that are missing because of cutting study hall includes seventh grade art and eighth grade physical education.

As long as the school is enabling the students who want to participate in optional classes, then the school is doing its job, board member Barry Kyllo said.

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