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Budget cuts mean more students are 'out'

ASHLAND — About 375 Ashland High School students are not enrolled in a full schedule of classes, in part because budget cuts have slashed elective courses.

Sixty-eight percent of all juniors and seniors have at least one "out period," in which they do not have a class, according to the high school. Thirty-two percent more students have at least one class-free period this school year compared with last year.

"This is my eighth year and absolutely this is the most out periods I have seen," Ashland High School Principal Jeff Schlecht said. "The reason the number of outs increased is because we cut 45 sections."

Juniors and seniors who are on track to graduate may request one or more class-free periods, instead of taking elective courses.

This year, because the fewer elective courses filled up quickly, administrators gave some juniors and seniors a class-free period even if they did not request one, Schlecht said. The number of students was unavailable, he said, but it was a "small percentage."

"Considering that we lost 45 sections (because of budget cuts), we did an incredible job of placing kids in the classes they needed and wanted," he said.

According to the high school, 232 juniors and seniors have one class-free period, 102 have two class-free periods and 42 have three. Ashland High School has seven periods, with the first four periods and the last three periods held on alternating days.

Although school officials would like to add more elective courses, there is no money for them this school year, Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said.

Students can take out periods for a variety of reasons: to work at a part-time job, take a college course or perform community service, Di Chiro said.

However, school officials don't like to see students taking out periods simply because there are no elective courses open, Di Chiro said.

"If it's a family and student choice, then it doesn't concern me as much as if they feel like, 'Gee, there's nothing here for me to take,' " she said. "Then that is a concern."

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.