A second option would allow students to take a seventh hour for tuition. The state only requires that six hours be offered, and many districts have already cut their seventh hours.
The music departments are already crying foul about this. The Pioneer music department released these statistics:
36% of Pioneer Band students take a 7th hour out of necessity to get all of their credits in.
46% of Pioneer Orchestra students take a 7th hour out of necessity to get all of their credits in.
47% Pioneer Choir students take a 7th hour out of necessity to get all of the credits in.
This is 43% of the total music department.
So, o.k., it is clear this would disproportionately affect the music departments. It would also affect students in career/vocational education, those taking lots of AP classes...
There is also a proposal to switch Skyline from trimesters to semesters, and an alternate proposal to allow Skyline to keep trimesters but make reductions that would save a similar amount of money.
All of which led me to the following questions.
1. If students at Pioneer and Huron (and Community) need to pay for a seventh hour option, will it be free to students who qualify for free and reduced price lunch?
Something like 15% of our high school students currently qualify for free/reduced price lunch. Obviously, if you charge tuition and you don't waive the price for students with FRPL, then poorer kids are going to get fewer opportunities than richer kids. On the other hand, if you do waive the price for students with FRPL, then that would have a budget impact. Right?
2. If the "seventh hour tuition" goes into effect [or if seventh hour is simply cut], but Skyline stays with the trimester system, will students at Skyline need to pay for [or be able to access at all] their fifth hour? Because
4 periods/trimester at Skyline = 12 periods (six credits) and
6 periods/semester at the other schools=12 periods (six credits).
This seems obvious, but I think we'd have a mass protest if families at Skyline were told they could only have four hours/term (or have to pay for a fifth hour). It might seem like a credit is a credit is a credit, but because of the trimester system, many students at Skyline use three trimesters (1.5 credits) for the same class of. . . math, music, or AP classes. . . that take two semesters (1.0 credits) at Pioneer or Huron or Community. So any decision to cut credit hours at Skyline would probably affect more students than at the other schools. In fact, with only four hours a trimester, I'm not sure that most students could meet their basic requirements. On the other hand, I would think that if Skyline students get 15 hours/year and the other students only get 12 hours/year, the students (and families) who only get 12 hours/year would be rightfully pissed off.
So, anyway, I put these questions to the AAPS Director of Communications, and this is her answer:
Ruth. We are not able to answer either of these questions. No decision has been made regarding 7th hour by the Board. We are still working on the 7th class for fee scenario.
It's unclear to me whose job it is to "play out" various scenarios, but it doesn't seem like it should be left to me, ruminating while I'm out for an evening walk.
I'm not sure how they could make a decision on seventh hour without considering these questions, especially given that they will have budget impacts. And that, of course, makes me wonder: what assumptions were embedded in that projected $500,000 in savings? Where did that number come from?