BURLEY — Parents of some students in rural parts of Cassia County are worried a schedule change will keep their children from having equal access to classes at Cassia Regional Technical Center in Burley.
The Cassia County School District’s board of trustees approved the change to a seven-period schedule for the district’s high schools during its last board meeting on Jan. 28. The change will go into effect this fall, Cassia County School District Superintendent James Shank said.
The district’s high schools currently attend classes four days a week with A/B schedules and classes that last 90 minutes, Shank said.
The change will allow students to attend each class four days a week for 50 to 55 minutes.
Shank said the board asked the district’s principals to meet and work out a plan to implementat the change.
“The charge for them as secondary principals is to figure out how to make that work across the district,” Shank said.
The board earlier approved continuing a four-day week for the 2021-2022 school year for all students.
Marlene Hall, parent of a Raft River High School junior who is enrolled in the electronics program at the tech center, said the seven-period schedule change will prevent students at the district’s outlying high schools from benefiting from the tech programs.
The tech center, which is part of the district, offers programs like computer aided design, game and app programming, health professions, residential construction, welding and mechanics to high school students. They can earn dual credits for college in the classes.
“We need to make choices that benefit the entire district, not just those schools that are close to Burley,” Hall said.
Hall said her son goes to the tech center twice a week for half a day and eats his lunch on those days on the bus as he travels back to his school.
The distance between Burley and Malta, where Raft River schools are, is about 35 miles, which takes approximately 40 minutes to drive one way.
If tech center classes are held every day, her son would not be able to take them because the time investment would infringe on the time he needs for core classes, she said.
“I don’t see any advantages at all for the outlying schools,” Hall said.
The tech center is supported by the taxpayers from across the district, she said.
“The other side needs to be represented in this,” Hall said.
Shank said the district does not intend to deny access to the tech center to any student.
“We want all students to continue to have access to the tech center,” he said.
Shank said the high school principals will continue to meet until a plan is made for making the shift work throughout the district and the group’s recommendations are brought back to the board.
Cassia County School District Spokeswoman Debbie Critchfield said the issue is something the board has been discussing for a couple of years.
Critchfield said the district had been hearing concerns from some parents at the schools outside of Burley.
Shank said teachers at Burley High School brought the schedule shift proposal to the board because the teachers need more time with their students in class.
“An important piece of this is teachers are trying to maximize instructional time with students,” Critchfield said.
It boils down to the district finding ways to increase student achievement, Critchfield said, and one element of that is to modify the schedule.