Newton school board approves block scheduling

COVINGTON - Next school year, all high schools in Newton County will operate on block scheduling.

During its February regular session meeting, the Newton County Board of Education unanimously approved block scheduling for Alcovy and Newton high schools and Sharp Learning Center beginning in the 2009-10 school year. Eastside High School already operates under block scheduling.

School officials said they want all of the high schools to be on the same schedule for a variety of reasons.

Linda Hayden, associate superintendent for instruction, said that block scheduling allows more academic flexibility than the current six-period day schedule at Alcovy and Newton and doesn't require any additional costs. She said it also allows students more options for work-based learning and post-secondary dual enrollment and gives students the opportunity to attempt eight classes per school year, instead of six.

Under a block schedule, students will take four extended classes per day. Courses will end at the end of each 18-week semester - for example, students will start four courses in August and take final exams in December before holiday break and start a new set of four courses in January after the break to continue until the end of the school year in May.

School board Chairman C.C. Bates said she was concerned about the communication with parents before the school system brought this option to the board. She said she received a phone call from a parent the day of the meeting who told her that most parents were not aware of the possible scheduling change until they read the article that day in the Newton Citizen.

Hayden said they plan to inform parents at eighth-grade meetings and other high school meetings starting this month.

She also said that NCSS officials will set up professional learning about block scheduling for untrained employees for the rest of this school year and into the summer to be ready for the new school year.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.