At high school, cuts mean more free time

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Throughout Albert Lea High School there are nervous freshman wandering the hallways, upperclassmen exchanging handshakes and hugs, and teachers happy to get back to work. It is the first day of school.

&uot;Here we go again,&uot; said social studies teacher Kurt Barickman as he watched students full of boisterous conversation hustle by.

Students across the state headed back to school on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. In the Albert Lea district, as in many districts, there were changes made due to budget cuts.

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&uot;I think this is the worst cut we’ve had to deal with,&uot; said Barickman.

&uot;It can’t help but to affect students.&uot;

Students throughout the school were affected by the changes. The French program was cut, class sizes have grown, more study halls are being assigned, and buses don’t pick students up now unless they live more than two miles away.

Those who are taking the bulk of these changes are the ninth- and tenth-graders. Along with increased class sizes, there are fewer classes to choose from and more study halls.

&uot;I’m not getting as many electives as I had last year and don’t have as many choices about those either,&uot; said 10th-grader Preston Dahl. &uot;I’ve also got a lot more study halls than I would have liked.&uot;

Students in 9th and 10th grades have two mandatory study halls unless they are in music or another extracurricular program. The increase in study halls is due to staff cuts. With fewer teachers to teach courses it means that there are fewer sections, in turn meaning more students are without classes during certain periods of the day.

Dahl said that he would have rather had classes than study halls. &uot;It’s more interesting and at least I get credit for having a class,&uot; he said.

The increase in study halls is not a concern for all students, though. &uot;It doesn’t really matter to me because if you are in sports you need the extra time to work on your homework,&uot; said 10th-grader Krista Horejsi. &uot;So I don’t have a problem with it.&uot;

Teachers are noticing that study halls have grown in number and in size. &uot;I think that they are now bigger and at certain times of the day there are more study halls,&uot; said Kristin Schreiber, a Spanish teacher with a study hall during the day. &uot;It just means that students will have less chances at electives.&uot;

Schreiber, as an instructor in the language department, is well aware of the decreased elective selection pool. &uot;French was cut altogether and Spanish lost some kids as well. I think it is because less 9th and 10th graders can take these electives,&uot; she said. &uot;I think it’s a shame.&uot;

Class sizes have increased throughout most of the courses offered at the school, as well. &uot;My classes this year are larger than I’d had in the past,&uot; said Mindy Kruger, a math teacher. &uot;It makes it harder for a teacher to get to all the students, which is especially important for math courses.&uot;

Overall students seem to ignore the cuts. They are much more interested in getting to know the school, getting reacquainted with friends and finding their lockers.

&uot;It seemed like summer went by so fast,&uot; said Horejsi. &uot;But I’m glad to be back. It’s great to see everyone again.&uot;