After viewing most of the board meeting on TV the other night, I felt compelled to contact someone regarding the 6 vs. 7 hour school day. The
reason NOT to have a 7 hour day seems pretty clear to me. The gentleman responding to your questions was very clear and informative. The 1.2
million/year figure is without doubt a hefty chunk of change, and hard to
ignore. What is unclear however is the reason to STAY with a 7 hour day when a reasonable and less expensive alternative exists.
Since the vote was so close, I am picking on you two because I noted at the time that you voted differently at the meeting, so I felt I could get a fair
opinion from both sides of the issue. (Plus, I happen to have your
respective email addresses in my email contact list :+)) Hopefully someone can clear this up for me.
First off, it appears to me that the reaction on the part of some parents and students to not having the extra electives is overblown. I asked a
friend of mine who has a child at East whether this is a real issue to most kids and he responded by saying his daughter said "no". Although I have met
his daughter and she seems to be a typical high school Junior, of course I realize this is only one person's account. Precisely how many kids, actual
or in percentages, will realistically be negatively affected by the elective
cuts. Can this be tallied by surveying the kids? I do not mean to sound uncaring or glib about this, but how many kids in Duluth will truly use a
fifth year of HS Spanish, let's say, to build a career in some
internationally based company who deals with companies located in Mexico or South America? It may be simplistic, but I think this is true in many
academic areas. My daughters seem to be bent towards the arts and literature, so I certainly would not want the entire arts program scrubbed,
but I think I could live with the fact that they may not necessarily get the exact mix of classes they might want if it meant a 1.2 million dollar a year
savings that will affect the entire district. Are there any financial benefits for parents/kids to take certain AP classes as they prepare for
college? How pervasive is this? If we were not in this current financial bind, then of course we would ALL want our kids to have as many choices as
possible. Unfortunately this is not the case, and for the common good of the district in toto, sacrifices should be made by all. Before you decision
to remain on the seven hour schedule becomes engraved in granite, I implore the board to review this more carefully.
That's my spiel. The entire board and Superintendent Almanza seem to be greatly stressed, and there has been enough board-bashing for another
decade, so, although I speak for only myself and my family, if there is anything you think WE can do, let us know
Your thoughts parallel my own. Somehow parents have gotten it into their heads that the seven hour day is indispensible for their children to get into good colleges. I'd love to offer this rich elective coursework but it seems financially impossible for us to continue it.
I especially regret the lost oportunities in the music programs, which would be particulary hard hit if do merge three high schools into two. Perhaps, however, a seven hour day in two high schools would help make up for the music venues that would be lost in the merger. Or perpaps the seven period day will simply result in more study halls after we lay off the teachers we can no longer afford.
We still have another month of uncertainty ahead of us. I'm cautiously hopeful that the Board will not allow itself to go into debt. Our slow approach may help convince the public that we are not being too hasty. On the other hand, our indecisiveness may just kill our administrators.