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Ballston high school schedule to change

Some Ballston Spa High School teachers are working on changing the class schedule to better meet the needs of the student population. Their first effort, several years in the making, was not approved by their peers in a spring vote.

We presented a memorandum of agreement this spring, and it was voted down by a significant margin, said John DeGuardi, a social studies teacher who serves on the scheduling committee and is an instructional teacher leader.

The spring vote went down 74-32, said DeGuardi who presented the issue to the board earlier this month.

DeGuardi. who came to the district in 1997, called the existing schedule innovative for its time and noted that the schedule alleviated overcrowding in the old building and allowed students to take more classes. That schedule, created in the late 90s, was changed in 2000 to add a fourth hour of instruction. Teachers formed the existing scheduling committee in 2003, with the group members having several different chairpersons since its inception.

"The schedule has out-lived its usefulness and is not meeting the needs of students," said DeGuardi.

Since the vote, DeGuardi said he has evaluated the proposal made to the teachers. He told the board that in reflection it did not meet the needs of the students either. The schedule was retrofitted into the day, he said, and some disciplines would have lost a significant amount of instruction time.

"We need to go back to the drawing board," said DeGuardi, who asked the school board for its support. "We need an expert to look at this. I am suggesting a consultant be hired."

Changes are being made for the fall said high school Principal Krist Jensen. Classes will be held in three- and four-hour blocks.

"For students, it will look very similar to the way it looks this year," she said. "It will also allow us to get some of the AIS (academic intervention services) time in, that we couldn't get in this year."

The schedule calls for more instructional time and less study hall time.

The board took no action on the suggestion, but Interim Superintendent Ray Colucciello noted the district does have one available if need be. He encouraged DeGuardi and the study committee to find a new schedule that would both benefit the children and have the support of the teaching staff. ""

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