School board hears discussion over dropping block scheduling
(L to R) Superintendent Ron Blankenship, board president Lee Evans,
members Cynthia Dale, Joy Starcher, Steve Whited and Mike Wilson

By Bob Weaver

Dropping block scheduling and changing to an eight-period instructional day was unanimously approved last night by the Calhoun County Board of Education.

About forty people, including about five parents not attached to the local school system, attended a forum about dropping block scheduling.

The motion, introduced by board member Steve Whited, calls for slow implementation by school year 2008-09.

The change is to return to "traditional scheduling," said board president Lee Evans, eight-45 minutes classes.

Members Evans, Steve Whited and Mike Wilson favored the change, but member Joy Starcher said "I have mixed feelings. It needs to be studied more. I can't make a decision today."

Member Cynthia Dale said "I don't feel prepared to vote on it either way," but she and Starcher both approved the plan for slow implementation to an 8-period schedule.

Evans says he believes students will do better using the schedule, saying many other school systems have shifted away from block scheduling.

However, board members indicated they would entertain looking at adding another modified block to the current one already in place.

"After 32 years of teaching, the worst experience of my life was eight-period teaching," commented teacher Bev Morford, who then said to the board, "You should take us at our word and experience."

"It's was a horse race, a killer for low-performance students," said teacher Bob Bonar, referring to frequent class changes and settling in after each change, adding "We're drowning in requirements."

President Evans responded by asking, "How are all these other schools doing it successfully?," stating multi-period scheduling offers more opportunities and addresses short attention spans.

Calhoun high principal Karen Kirby said a majority of teachers like the modified block currently in use.

Arnoldsburg resident Kelley Houchin said "If we go to an 8-period schedule, surely we could offer more options," but then called for "a very careful process."

Two student Representatives, Kayla Roberts and Kayla Miller, spoke in favor of block scheduling, asking board members to "Open your mind and make the right decision."

Teachers, students and parents participated
in forum to change scheduling to eight-periods

CHS student Chris Lane told the board he had attended multi-period scheduling in Tennessee, saying "Block scheduling helps students focus and helps slow learning." He said block scheduling gives students more time and is less stressful.

Board member Whited said it was difficult for him to make a decision, but he felt year-long classes better prepare students, expressing concerns about little improvement in Calhoun test scores.

"If Calhoun Middle and Calhoun High had not "merged," we'd be really flunking," said Evans.

Whited said "We all want what is best for our children, saying he would like to look at actual schedules being used by regional schools.