SJ-O board to consider giving students more class options

ST. JOSEPH – Students at St. Joseph-Ogden High School may have a few more options when charting their course lists next year, now that administrators and faculty have looked at scheduling flexibility.

Principal Chad Uphoff reported to the board Monday on three ways to give students a chance to balance courses they need for college, courses they need to graduate and the fun electives they want to take.

Next month, the board will decide whether to take an introduction to social studies class off the required-classes list for freshmen, offer more tuition-based summer school classes and resume "zero-hour" classes that start before the first school bell each morning.

Uphoff said faculty groups, especially the school's department chairs, looked at ways to open up more time for electives rather than overhauling how the school days are structured.

Now, the school uses seven 51-minute periods, and students go to the same classes five days a week. The group considered going to eight shorter classes or having longer classes that meet only two or three times a week.

In the end, however, it seemed the only way to cram in more classes was to get more hours into the school day.

One option would involve a rarely used policy – teaching a class before school starts. That would require enough students to make it worth the time, and a willing teacher.

Another option would be the summer months, when students could take electives or get requirements out of the way. Uphoff said that with board approval, the school would offer summer courses to SJ-O teachers and students first, but open them to students outside the district if participation starts to decline.

Uphoff said the idea of cutting the social studies class from the required list, but still offering it as an elective, received support from that department's faculty. He said the course was made a requirement just a few years ago after the state started testing underclassmen on the subject.

District joins power consortium

The school board agreed to join the Illinois Energy Consortium, a move that is projected to save the district about 14 percent on power bills over the next year and a half.

"By signing up with (the consortium), we'll be able to get our rates as cheap as they can come for the energy itself," said Superintendent Vic Zimmerman.

The district now pays the cheapest rates available, without joining the statewide group of schools, according to Zimmerman.

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