RICHMOND ó Central Heights school board members made a significant change to the structure of middle and high school classes Monday, but that doesnít mean disputed athletic practices will be moved to after school.

The board passed a proposal Monday night to expand the middle and high school class schedules from a seven-period school day to an eight-period structure in a 5-2 vote. Along with approving the new schedule, the issue of athletic practices resurfaced. Practices now are held during class hours, though some parents and school officials have pushed for the district to move such practices to after school.

Students in athletics are getting less classroom time for academics because they have to practice during the day, Shawn Cardin, school board member, said. He argued that education was more important than athletic practice.

ďMy issue is this: With the eight-hour proposal, youíre losing even more of their school day and they are not getting the education. Period,Ē Cardin said. ďA majority of these kids are not going off to play professional sports. They need their education. A majority of them are going to have to have an educational scholarship to go to college. Athletics should be after school. Thatís my stance on it. Iíve made it clear before; Iím making it clear now. They need the school day for academics.Ē

A proposal on changing practice times failed on a 3-4 vote.

With the switch to an eight-period school day, athletic practices will take place during both seventh and eighth periods, as opposed to just the last class period of the day.

Bud Welch, Central Heights Middle School principal, said in January the first seven periods of the day in an eight-period schedule would be dropped down to 48-minute classes, with the eighth period lasting 43 minutes. Teams would get the last two periods for practice, making athletic practices about an hour and a half, instead of the currently allotted 51 minutes.

In the new schedule, sixth-grade students will use the extra class period as an enrichment opportunity with focus on reading and math classes, Welch said in January. Seventh- and eighth-grade students will use the period for athletic practices or elective classes.

The high school would use its extra period as a homework study hall, Tom Horstick, Central Heights High School principal, said in January, allowing athletes to not miss class when leaving school early to travel to games.

Jack Davis, school board member, said he would be willing to move athletic practices to after school, but noted the school doesnít have the facility space at 3521 Ellis Road, Richmond, to make such a change.

ďThe way I look at it, there isnít enough space,Ē Davis said. ďAnd Iíve always wanted it after school.Ē