Board abandons block scheduling; will return to 7-period days

Thursday, March 24, 2005

GREEN FOREST ---- Block scheduling was abandoned in favor of a return to traditional seven period days when the Green Forest Board of Education met Monday night.

Not all board members were in favor of the switch. Suzanne Villines and Brian Ayers voted against the change, while Kirk Powell, Barbara Foster, Cheryl Howard and Byron Russ gave their nod of approval. Julie Adams was not present.

The vote came after the school board discussed the issue in front of at least 20 community members who were in attendance.

At last month's meeting, a full contingent of school patrons turned out to voice their opinions.

Monday night, High School Principal David Borg reported on the results of a parent survey that was conducted on block.

He said 360 surveys were mailed and 159 returned. Of those, block received 87 votes and the seven-period day garnered 66 votes.

"The people were passionate (in their comments) whether they were one way or the other," he said. "The comments brought up good points on both sides of the issue."

Villines asked Borg what he had found out about a modified block schedule.

"I haven't found a completely successful modified block when checking with other schools," he responded.

Superintendent Dr. Larry Bennett said he used block 12 years and it was very productive but the easiest route to take was a seven-period day.

He said there were improvements in ACT scores from high school students on block and other favorable indicators.

With that, Bennett noted that there was opposition to block and recommended that the board go back to a seven period day, saying he wasn't going to be around very long.

In other business, the board tabled action on text book adoptions as recommended by textbook committees, because parents weren't involved in the selection process as required by state law. It will be revisited next month after parent involvement is arranged.

The board did approve state standards for accreditation after confirming that all school libraries had eight books per student, as required.

Also, amendments to the sick leave bank policy were approved as presented.

During administrative reports, Borg spoke about a career action plan that has been put in place to help high school students achieve their goals.

He said tenth-grade students will be touring the vocational technical facility in Harrison to learn what they need to do to prepare.

He complimented the poultry and meat judging teams, French students and Quiz Bowl team, who are all on their way to state competitions.

Intermediate Principal John Pipkins said testing was complete in his building. Two volunteers, Peggy James and Gus King, who are certified teachers, helped with the 16 additional testing areas that were required.

Pipkins complimented his staff, saying they "stepped up to the plate and hit a home run" because there wasn't anything on the tests that the students hadn't covered in class.

Elementary Principal Andrea Martin said Benchmark and Iowa testing was complete in her building and she was anxious to see the scores, although they may not be available until June. She did note that LEP student testing was still underway, and kindergarten registration was coming up.

Bennett, during his superintendent's report, suggested that the board consider adopting a fee schedule for use of the Alumni Center because of the many requests he had received. Bennett said it is board policy to charge a fee for use of school facilities to cover utilities. He suggested there be a staff member present when kitchen facilities are used, and perhaps a school custodian.

The board agreed to look at a proposal next month, and to let Bennett negotiate a price in the meantime.

Bennett reported on legislative issues that are currently being considered by state lawmakers, such as: facilities action; athletics to count for credit (with tight strings attached); concurrent credit (distance learning) versus advanced placement; upgrades for distance learning labs; nepotism law for school board members; earlier start date for first day of school; and, possible reduction in staff development days.

Bennett suggested that the board bring motivational speaker Jamie Volmer to the community, and received the board's enthusiastic approval. He suggested Volmer meet with teachers during staff development, lunch with business leaders, and meet with community members later in the day.

The board also accepted resignations from Faith Durnam, John Tuck, Penny Andrews, Christa Long, and employed Donna Hobbs as and occupational therapist.

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