Georgetown County high schools to split periods

When it comes to scheduling for high schools in Georgetown County School District, one size does not fit all.

The district school board voted unanimously Tuesday to give initial approval for individualized plans for each high school's schedule for next school year.

The approach means Carvers Bay High and Waccamaw High schools will move to a seven-period schedule; Georgetown High School will keep the block scheduling that all four high schools currently have and Andrews High School will have a hybrid schedule with grades 9 and 10 using a combination block and seven-period schedule, and grades 11 and 12 keeping most of their current block schedule. Andrews High School's schedule will transition to a full seven-period schedule in 2014.

"We didn't end up all moving together," said Patti Hammel, the district's executive director for Student Performance and Federal Programs.

The proposed plans match what the school principals requested at the last board meeting.

Under consideration is the current block scheduling, in which students carry four classes daily and change those classes mid-year for four new classes. With seven-period scheduling students attend the same seven classes daily for the entire year. Those who support the seven-period day say it gives students more consistency, but others say block scheduling gives students more options.

District Superintendent Randy Dozier said he "depended very heavily on the principals to suggest what best suits their schools."

But some board members were concerned about having different schedules in the high schools.

Board member Pat DeLeone said she was concerned because of the number of calls she has taken from people "expressing their dislike of the seven-period schedule."

But she said she has been assured by other board members and administrators that "each principal knows their community."

The district has had all of its high schools on block scheduling, with four classes a day per semester, since the late '90s.

Board chairman Jim Dumm said he remembers "very clearly when we went to block scheduling in the late '90s we wanted things to be consistent. I want us to be very watchful of how it does impact student achievement."

Hammel said the district will continue to closely monitor student performance.

Vice Chairman Arthur Lance Jr. said he feels the board members are "open minded" and will be open to changing the schedules if necessary.

"Nothing is ever necessarily in stone," he said.

Members of the community around Brown's Ferry and elementary schools were also present at the meeting because the suggestion had been made in a memo to school district staff about possibly closing that school, along with Plantersville Elementary School, to help with budget cuts.

Board members stressed at the meeting that while no options were off the table, the cost savings of the suggestions made in that memo had not yet been calculated.

"I don't think we can afford to have any sacred cows," said board member Teresa Bennani. "I would like to see what the cost savings would be with those suggestions."

Bennani suggested that the board have a work session to go through all of the suggestions that had been made.

Dozier said the list should be prepared for the board's work session on March 14. At that session the board will also consider final approval of the proposed schedule changes.