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Franklin Regional approves seven-period day at high school

| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 7:57 a.m.

The math was simple for Franklin Regional officials Monday night — seven is greater than eight.

School board members approved a controversial seven-period day schedule for high school students by a 6-3 vote after months of debate. Board members Dennis Irvine, Dennis Pavlik and Jane Tower dissented, while Kim Bondi, Larry Borland, Roberta Cook, Paul Scheinert and Herb Yingling supported the plan.

“I have to say, I feel there was a compelling need for improvement here because of students not performing to the level they need to,” said Scheinert , the board vice president who had voted against the plan previously. “We don't want to see students fall through the cracks.”

Pavlik called his vote “rough.”

“I come back to the Hippocratic Oath — ‘First, do no harm,'” Pavlik said. “Some students are going to be negatively impacted, based on the schedule.”

The move will eliminate study halls and create a 60-minute common period, called quality resource time, during which students can meet one-on-one with teachers to receive help or enrichment. Officials said the plan will help increase student performance, particularly on state standardized tests.

The board had rejected the plan in February because of what officials called “too many uncertainties.” Board members again delayed the decision last month after principal Ron Suvak presented a plan that will allow high-achieving students who are enrolled in performance band to schedule eight classes. At least one honors foreign language class in French and Spanish will be taught during quality resource time, Suvak said, which would enable students to take both classes.

Parents of some high-achieving students have lambasted the plan, saying it will hurt student achievement and decrease the amount of options that the teens have.

Sue Kline of Delmont said her daughter, a junior, had enough trouble scheduling with eight periods. She said she doubts teens will be able to schedule all of the upper-level courses they want with less periods to work with.

“I'm disappointed by a plan where my daughter has to choose like this,” Kline said. “But we have to support them.”

Yingling said the possibility of taking eight is still there — if a student wants it.

“It's still seven plus one, if you don't need QRT,” Yingling said. “We have a ton of honors students, but at the same time, we don't want to see other students fall through the cracks. And that has been happening.”

The new schedule will be implemented in the fall.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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