Richmond County high school students may soon see a slight change in their school day schedule.
The Richmond County School System Instruction Committee presented plans to Board of Education members on Tuesday night that would eliminate one class period from the current high school schedule, turning a seven-period day into a six-period day.
The elimination of one class period will still give students ample time to complete their degree requirements in four years. In 2015, the school system reduced the number of credits required for graduation from 25 to 23 to match the state’s requirements.
The implementation of the new schedule would begin in the 2018-2019 school year by offering high school credits in Richmond County middle schools. Eighth grade students would have the opportunity to take Algebra 1 or Algebra 1A and Algebra 1A Support, Physical Science, Personal Fitness, Introduction to Digital Technology, Band, Biology, Spanish and American Government which would count toward their high school credits, giving them a jump-start on high school credits.
However, middle school teachers of those subjects would first have to obtain certification in those subjects, an expense paid by the teachers that is not fully reimbursable from the county.
Implementation would continue in 2019-2020 with ninth grade students being on a Ninth Grade Academy model and placed on six-period schedule. In 2020-2021, all high school students would be on a six-period schedule.
The plan would give students approximately 10 additional minutes in their classes and cause fewer transitions, as well as give teachers 10 extra minutes for their planning period. The schedule would not impact career, technology, agriculture and engineering students’ ability to travel to their off-campus locations and would still permit for dual enrollment and elective options, according to the school system.
“We believe that this plan is thorough and will benefit our students, our staff and our schools over the next few years and many years to come,” assistant superintendent for Area 1 Dr. Lamonica Hillman said.
Hillman said the plan will not negatively affect the school system’s budget or funding.
Marion Barnes, president of the Board of Education, inquired about the cost to middle school teachers for additional certification and pointed out that some may not be financially able to obtain the requirement.
“First let me say this benefits them, too,” Hillman responded. “When they pursue their high school course work, it benefits them.”
Hillman said the school system can provide them with “some support” for certification. The certification will not allow for a pay increase for teachers.
“It’s marketable, it’s great to have on a certification,” she said. “It helps everyone all the way around.”
The possible six period schedule does not require a vote by the board. The Instruction Committee is still planning this implementation.