The Jordan Board of Education was given a sneak preview Tuesday night of what it might be like if the district's secondary schools switched to a year-round schedule, and the picture was not pretty.
The concept needs more study, but those charged with that task said it is also clear that, should the district be forced to go that direction, parents and students would be in for a major change in both lifestyle and educational expectations.District officials said it would likely be at least five years before such action is seriously considered. But, officials said, parents might find themselves facing a choice between approving a bond election to build new high schools or going to the year-round concept for a five- or six-year period.
Two concepts are being studied. One would put the secondary schools on a program similar to that used in many of the district's elementary schools.
The board was told that while that system may work for the middle schools, it is not workable for the high schools. Even in the middle schools, the system has serious implications. It calls for students to attend school for 45 days and then have 15 school days off. The students are divided into three groups so that only two-thirds of the students are in school at any one time. All students share a monthlong vacation in July and a weeklong Christmas vacation.
The high schools are looking at a system called Concept 6, which divides the school year into six periods and has students attending four of the six blocks during the year. This would allow high schools to increase enrollment by about one-third over present limitations. Students would be divided into three groups, with two of the groups in session at any given time.
A committee studying both proposals told the board that under either system, class offerings are likely to suffer unless the district finds money to hire more teachers. Principals on the committee said the increased staffing would be necessary to ensure that teachers are properly certified for the courses they teach and to provide an acceptable number of specialized elective courses for students.
Without increased staffing, high school students would likely find themselves unable to take advanced-placement courses, series offerings such as accounting 1, 2 and 3, and even foreign languages, something that is becoming an entrance requirement for some universities. High schools would likely have to offer core classes in English, math, science and other required courses that would lump all students into the same category.
A similar scenario was described for the middle schools. Elective courses and specialized classes would also be eliminated in favor of compacted core curriculum offerings unless additional teachers were available. To meet such a demand, a more flexible approach to teacher contracts would also be required, the committee said.
The committee said such a switch should be viewed only as a temporary solution to overcrowding and once enrollment levels dropped, should be abandoned in favor of the traditional school format.