Originally created 02/11/01

Schools consider extension



The Richmond County Board of Education is considering adding an extra period to the high school day.

While the length of the day would be unaffected, a tweaking of the schedule would be necessary.

School officials say they would likely eliminate the 15-minute homeroom period and subtract five minutes from each of the six classes that now make up the school day.

"It could all be done smoothly," Assistant Superintendent Virginia Bradshaw said.

The changes would free up 45 minutes of the school day, allowing students time to take an additional class, study, do homework, get advice from guidance counselors or even prepare for the Georgia High School Exit Exam.

School board member Helen Minchew said she is concerned about the possible negative effect such a school day would have on teachers. She said they may feel overworked and flee to neighboring schools in Columbia County or even to schools in South Carolina.

Richmond County Superintendent of Schools Charles Larke agreed that teachers should be included in any discussion to change the school day. He said T.W. Josey High School currently has a seven-period day. The school's schedule could be used as a model for the other high schools.

Dianne Gilyard, an English teacher at T.W. Josey, said the seven-period day has worked well for her this year.

"I have a test preparation class for the Georgia High School Assessments; it's about 45 minutes," she said.

She said the students seem to like it, too.

One logistical concern is that the Southern Association of Schools does not permit a high school teacher to instruct more than 150 students per day, and adding a seventh class could take some teachers over that limit.

Mrs. Gilyard said she hasn't come close to exceeding the 150-student limit.

"The good thing about this - I call it modified block scheduling - is that I've met 100 different students that I otherwise wouldn't have gotten to know," she said.

School board member Marion Barnes, a retired teacher, said teachers definitely need to be heard from before any changes are made.

"Would the teachers get extended pay for teaching an extended day?" he asked. "I don't know all the details or how something like this would work. I think we need to study it. It sounds good."

School officials agreed to meet Tuesday and discuss the issue further.

Reach Justin Martin at (706) 823-3552.