The schedules of the two largest high schools in the Natrona County School District will be  aligned beginning either this fall or by the 2022 school year.

The district's board of trustees voted to approve the common high school schedule at its meeting Monday.

The high schools are Kelly Walsh High School, Natrona County High School.

After a motion by trustee Dave Applegate, the trustees agreed to not include Midwest School because it is on a four-day schedule.

The recommendation read by trustee Chairman Ray Catellier cited the benefits for students and staff, with the uncertainty of state funding of the district in mind.

The district anticipates the Legislature will significantly decrease funding for the school districts.

In January, Superintendent Mike Jennings said the proposals considered before the Legislature convened could slash $17 million to $18 million for the Natrona County School District.

During the work session before the regular meeting, Jennings said the district needs to act on this because of the financial uncertainty. "It makes a lot of sense to start looking at efficiencies."

The common schedule would give students more access to a variety of courses and programs, especially for single classes that are offered once a day at each school, Jennings said.

It would be more efficient to have just one class at one high school, not only for student scheduling but to better use staff time, he said.

That efficiency would extend to better use of staff with specialty certification for teaching dual language immersion, nursing, welding and science courses, according to the recommendation and Jennings.

That efficiency also would better enable students from the two major high schools to attend vocational classes at the Pathways Innovation Center.

However, trustee Kianna Smith thought the alignment of classes might reduce some opportunities for students.

Smith also said the common schedule would detract from the particular characteristics of Natrona County and Kelly Walsh high schools, and that would somewhat undermine the school-of-choice model for students.

Even so, she voted with the rest of the trustees to implement the common schedule.

Trustee Rita Walsh said the board was giving this recommendation to the principals, and if they can't come to an agreement the board will take the action.

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