CHHS shifts to block schedule

Published 3:07 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Students at Charles Henderson High School will shift to a block schedule beginning in August.

The Troy City Schools Board of Education unanimously approved the change on Monday. Under the block schedule, students will attend classes in four, 96-minute blocks each day, changing blocks at the semester. Previously, they attended seven 55-minute periods, with year-long courses.

“I think this is a positive step,” said Wally Lowery, president of the school board. “After talking with our students, teachers and administrators, we believe this gives them more opportunities and will better prepare them for the future.”

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Dr. Lee Hicks, superintendent, said the scheduling move stemmed from several objectives, including increasing opportunities for the school’s 618 students to participate in career-technical courses, electives and academic courses.

“We spend about $450,000 a year to help support the career-tech center, but because they were on the block period and we were not, only about 12 percent of our students were taking advantage of the course offerings over there,” Hicks said. Those courses include a teaching academy, welding, math and engineering prep and health care preparation, all of which Hicks said can better serve students seeking to pursue those career fields.

“Before, a student had to sacrifice two periods to attend a class (at the career-tech center) and they were having to choose whether to take marching band or a career prep course,” Hicks said. “This allows them to be able to do both.”

Hicks said the shift is part of an ongoing effort to continually improve the quality of education at the high school. Partnered with opportunities to grow dual enrollment and to offer high school credit courses at the middle school, Hicks said the block schedule will give students more options to customize engage in their high school education. “You can go as fast as you want,” he said.

This isn’t the first time the Troy City Schools have employed the block schedule at the high school. “My question was this: ‘we’ve been down this road and failed. What are you going to do this time to make it successful?,’” said board member Mark Salmon. “The administration is aware of what has transpired in the past and I think they’re addressing those concerns. When I listened to them talk, and heard the compelling information, the block schedule makes sense.

“We have done a log of things now to really serve very, very well those students who want to achieve academically. This gives us the opportunity to reach those students who might also want to explore career-tech programs, and that’s a strong positive.”

Salmon said he is a product of the block system, and he knows it can be effective. “You always are going to wonder about a student taking a class like math or English on the block and going half a year or a year without taking it again,” Salmon said. “But there’s always a portion of the program when you go back and review what has been learned to that point, and if this is done effectively … it can compensate for any concerns we might have.”

Hicks said the high school administration will work closely with the teacher to help them prepare for the transition to the block schedule and the changes in their approach to teaching. “This is a much more collaborative environment; it’s not just lecture and worksheets,” Hicks said. “With the block, you have more time as a teacher to engage the students.”

In other business on Monday, the board:

• Approved the retirements of Stella Hughes, Troy Elementary speech pathologist; Patricia Hatcher, Troy Elementary secretary; and Sylene Williams, Troy Elementary custodian.

• Approved the transfer of Brenda McClain from the Alternative Learning Center secretary to Early Childhood Center secretary.

• Approved the resignation of Rodney Jordan, Charles Henderson High School coach and history teacher.

• Approved the adoption of new science textbooks. The state provided $106,000 for the next textbooks and ebooks which conform to the Alabama Course of Student.

• Approved bids for milk, ice cream, beverage and bread products. Low bidders were Mayfield Dairy Farms, Athens, Tenn., and Bimbo Bakeries USA, Montgomery. Bids were rejected for the beverages.

• Awarded the pest control bid to Meeks Termites.