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Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 1:11pm

Big School Districts Consider Shortening School Year To Save Money

State Superintendent Kathy Cox has told school districts to expect more budget cuts.

Now, two of the state's biggest districts are considering shortening the school year and increasing class size as a way to deal with budget shortfalls.

Officials with Cobb County schools, the state's second largest school system, are asking for a waiver that would give the disctrict flexibility to cut days from the school calendar. Fulton County schools, in Atlanta, is considering a similar move.

Already, at least two school districts in the state -- Peach County in Middle Georgia and Murray County in Northwest Georgia, have shortened their school year. Both systems say they will save millions of dollars in energy and gas expenses.

Yet Gene Bottoms, with the state-funded Southern Regional Education Board, says cutting classroom time will hurt student performance.

"We have to have more students leaving high school ready for college, we have to have more students leaving high school ready to go into advance training. And if you cut the school day down you are going to have fewer, rather than more."

Meanwhile, 14 school districts in the state have received waivers from the state board of education that would allow them to increase class size above the state limit.

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