After several years of discussions, the Newton County Board of Education unanimously agreed to approve block scheduling for Alcovy and Newton high schools and Sharp Learning Center Tuesday night.
Eastside High School operates on a block schedule and for many years the board has discussed the need to have all high schools in the county on the same schedule. All but EHS are on traditional, six-period day.
There is no additional cost to have the high schools change to block scheduling and though traditionally this type of schedule would require additional staff members, administrators have assured the school board they can accommodate the new scheduling without adding personnel.
Another reason for the change in scheduling is the new graduation requirements, which mandate earning 23 units to graduate. With these new requirements in mind, a ninth grade student could only fail one course in a school year and still be promoted to the 10th grade. That student would then have to pass all courses thereafter in order to be eligible to graduate.
Block scheduling would also allow additional assistance for students transferring, as well as expand work-based learning and allow for alignment of school schedules for a potential career academy/center and for dual enrollment, according to a memo released by Superintendent Steve Whatley. It would also allow for increased opportunities for advanced placement (AP) classes.
The board hopes to start training teachers at NHS, AHS and Sharp in the next few weeks so that they are acclimated to the scheduling before the start of the 2009-2010 school year.
Parents will be notified of the changes beginning in March in the form of a newsletter and counselors and teachers will work with students to help with the transition in scheduling.
"Block scheduling will provide more extended learning opportunities for the students at Newton High School," said principal Dr. Roderick Sams. "We are excited about the transition and look forward to have the flexibility block scheduling provides."