By ASHLEY AMASON
In a brief meeting, Mar. 17, it was standing room only as the Walton County School Board officially voted to change Walton High School, South Walton High School and Freeport High School to a seven –period schedule next year.
Jenny Dargavell, parent of South Walton High School student, addressed the board in favor of a seven-period day. Regarding a four-block schedule, she said “There’s no good reason to keep it.” Dargavell brought research to the board, as well as comparisons with Okaloosa County, showing a seven-period day better prepares students for college. Board member Mark Davis noted that for every study proving a seven-period day is better, just as many state otherwise. Dargavell ended saying, regardless of a budget issue, “the real cost is to our kids.”
Walton High School teacher Capri Zadro addressed the board advocating block scheduling, saying the entire class time (87 minutes) is utilized. “As a teacher, personally I prefer block scheduling” she told the board. At the bare minimum, she said, “we need a transition year.”
Discussion circled about different schools having the scheduling of their choice, but conflict with the Walton Career Development Center class offerings ended that discussion.
Supervisor of Instruction and Curriculum Marsha Pugh informed the board changing to a seven-period day would result in a recurring $116,000 net savings on text books.
After hearing comments on both side of the issue, the board regretfully stated it came down to a budget issue. The motion to change to a seven-period day passed 3-2, with Mark Davis and Sharon Roberts opposing.
The board then approved plans for Emerald Coast Middle School. It is tentatively scheduled to be completed in late 2011, and will reduce over-crowding and prepare for the continued growth Walton County enjoys even in the face of economic crisis.