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Ruling sought on scheduling issue

February 14, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

After three years of debating the pros and cons of a new scheduling system, members of Smithsburg High School's Citizen's Advisory Council and School Improvement Team have asked the Washington County Board of Education for a decision.

The school and community have remained gridlocked over whether to change from seven to four class periods a day, representatives of the two groups told the school board Tuesday night.

For students' sake, there must be consistency in scheduling among Washington County's public high schools, they said.

"In a countywide issue, participatory democracy is not going to hack it," said CAC member Don Currier. "What we need is some kind of benevolent dictatorship. It's up to you as a board to make a decision."

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Three years ago, the school board asked each school to form a team to look into changing the school's scheduling from a traditional seven-period day to a four-period day, Michael J. Shockey said.

Williamsport and South Hagerstown high schools have four-period days, with students taking four classes one semester and another four classes the next semester.

Students at Hancock High School and Career Studies Center take eight classes in alternating four-period days.

The inconsistency makes it a nightmare for transferring students, who often lose credits because of scheduling differences, said Barbara Fromer, a guidance counselor at the school.

Whichever way the board decides, the entire Smithsburg High community has vowed to back it, Shockey said.

School board members said they think it's time to explore the issue and set a countywide scheduling policy.

Board President B. Marie Byers said she sees a potential for lawsuits from parents whose children lose credits because of a transfer.

Board member Andrew R. Humphreys encouraged the two Smithsburg High groups to share their views on the advantages and disadvantages of a four-period system.

The scheduling change wouldn't take place until the 1998-1999 school year, Byers said.

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