Keller — Keller district administrators plan to put off the decision on whether to go to an eight-credit high school schedule to await the outcome of some decisions in Austin.“We want to make sure we have the long-term capacity to support it,” said Superintendent Randy Reid. “We don’t want to start it and have to go back on it again a few years later.”Officials discussed the high school schedule at Thursday night’s board meeting. Two months ago, administrators said they would investigate expanding the available annual credits from seven to eight to give students more educational options. Since the schedule was trimmed back from eight classes to seven for the 2011-12 school year to cut costs and the state added additional math and science requirements, enrollment in Career and Technology courses has declined.Reid said there are three factors that played into the decision to delay the change: questions on funding, possible changes in graduation plans and expanding the Career and Technology program.“If we wait one year, two of the three issues will be fleshed out, so we can make a good, solid decision,” Reid said.Officials are looking to Austin for answers on funding and building more flexibility into graduation plans. Adding another period is expected to cost about $2.5 million, most of it going to hire more teachers. Administrators want to wait until they know that they have more funds before making the change.Reid said he does not expect the school finance situation to be sorted out until 2014. Although Judge John Dietz ruled earlier this month that the current funding system is inadequate, inequitable and unconstitutional, the decision is being appealed and likely won’t be heard in the Texas Supreme Court until fall, after the biennial legislative session ends. If the higher court upholds the decision, legislators would come back for a special session, as they did in 2006, the last time the education funding formula was struck down.Legislators have been discussing reforms to the state’s graduation plans and giving students more flexibility to pursue post-graduation options, Reid said. That decision likely would be made during the current session. Keller administrators can design the expanded program to match the graduation plans.The third issue is determining the future course of Career and Technology Education in the district. Reid said that officials are discussing how to beef up the program and may look at adding a stand-alone center to give students more hands-on training. In the past, officials have said that such a center would help alleviate crowding in the four high schools.Reid said that a center would determine how the eight periods were allocated because officials would need to build time into the schedule to transport students.Trustee Craig Allen asked what an eight-period schedule would look like.Reid said there were numerous options, including an eight-period day, an alternating block with classes meeting every other day, a modified block with some classes alternating and others meeting every day or an accelerated block with half the schedule meeting first semester and the other meeting second semester.In the past seven years, Keller high schools have used all of those options for various reasons, with the exception of eight classes in a day. For the last two years, students have had seven classes each day.Trustee Jim Stitt said he liked the idea of taking the time to make a decision and stick to it. “I hope as we do this, we continue to seek input from parents and students because they are the ones most affected by it,” Stitt said.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @SandraEngelland