Green Forest high schoolers will return to eight-period schedule

Friday, February 27, 2009

GREEN FOREST -- High school students will move from a block schedule to an eight-period schedule this fall.

The school board voted unanimously Monday night to adopt the new schedule. "We hope everyone will support it," said board President Cheryl Howard.

The eight periods, of 45 minutes each, will be separated by five-minute breaks. The board also considered a seven-period schedule, with class periods of 50 minutes, but that schedule would not have allowed as many additional offerings. The eight-period day will allow the district much more flexibility in scheduling.

Superintendent Jeff Williams said, "The theory is that you give smaller amounts of instruction, and the students retain it better." 

Construction update

The architects have completed preliminary drawings, and the construction management firm representing the school district has begun seeking bids for a new middle school building.

Once preliminary bids are received, the school will have a better idea how far the money will go, and whether parts of the project may have to be trimmed.

"April was our target for detailed drawings and prices, and we'll probably be a couple of weeks ahead of that," Williams said. Construction may start as early as mid-May, he said.

Honors banquet

A committee met Feb. 16 to consider how the school recognizes its top graduating students.

Williams had previously suggested setting criteria for honor students, and recognizing any students who met those standards. The present policy features a banquet for the top 10 graduates.

The committee generated some good ideas, Williams said, and they had another meeting planned for Feb. 24. By the March 16 board meeting, the committee should have a report for the board to consider.

Williams said the committee will probably recommend some minimum standards for honor graduates, and the school may once again name a valedictorian and a salutatorian.

"We're trying to get it down to where there are not a lot of controversial points," Williams said.

Delegations

Williams distributed copies of an article written by an attorney for the Arkansas School Boards Association.

The article cautioned local school boards to exercise caution in allowing delegations to speak at board meetings.

"What you allow to be said in a board meeting is important, and you can be liable for it," Williams said, "especially when it comes to personnel."

Under the existing policy, anyone wishing to speak as a delegation must submit a written request specifying a topic. Even with that restriction, however, speakers have wandered into prohibited areas, such as making personal attacks on teachers or other students.

Instead of accepting delegations, Williams suggested having prospective speakers placed on the agenda, with a specific item to discuss, such as the school's cell-phone policy.

The board discussed the need for parents to observe the chain of command, working through teachers, principals, and the superintendent before petitioning the board.

Calendar

Some school districts especially hit hard by the ice storm will ask the state for a waiver on making up lost days. Williams said Green Forest will probably not be eligible for waivers, unless the district has already curtailed spring break or asked students to attend on Saturdays.

Students missed six days for the ice storm, and had already missed another day. The calendar already included three snow days, and the school had an in-service day Feb. 16 and the Friday before Easter, April 10, to use as regular attendance days.

Williams said he does not like to interfere with spring break, since some staff or families of students already have vacation plans in place. Instead, two extra days will be added onto the end of the year.

Lawsuit

A date has been set for an evidentiary hearing for a lawsuit lawsuit filed by a parent, contesting a disciplinary action. Board members had received copies of the answer submitted by the district's attorney.

The case will be heard at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 31, in circuit court in Berryville.

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