Bradwell Institute and Liberty County High School will operate on two different schedules next school year.
Bradwell will change to a traditional schedule of seven classes per day, while LCHS will remain on block scheduling — four longer classes per day.
Liberty County School System Assistant Superintendent Susan Avant made the announcement at the Board of Education’s morning work session last month. She said discussions about switching schedules began in August at the principals’ request. There have been some problems with block scheduling, such as credit recovery and students having to wait a year before continuing to learn in a specific content area. Avant said her office has done research into both types of schedules and has contacted other school systems who have transitioned to traditional.
Avant’s presentation listed the benefits of traditional scheduling, which included content mastery with additional instructional time, improved alignment of scheduling and course credit for transient students, and increasing the number of pathway completers.
Questions and challenges with traditional scheduling included credit recovery, planning periods, lunch times, class size, coordinating schedules with Liberty College and Career Academy, Horizons Learning Center, labs in some courses and special education.
Board members expressed concerns about Bradwell’s switch to traditional scheduling Board member Marcia Anderson said she is alarmed that the district’s two high schools will be on different schedules.
“I’m just really torn about that because we’re going to have a lot of parents who don’t want their child on a seven-period day and first thing they’re going to do is ask for a transfer,” she said.
Avant said some parents want to make the transition to traditional scheduling because some students have trouble understanding the course’s core content within one semester. One of the advantages of going to traditional, Avant said, is getting around 900 additional minutes per year for teaching and credit recovery.
She explained in an email that under a block schedule, students take a class for 90 days for 90 minutes each day for a total of 8,100 minutes of instructional. Under a traditional schedule, students take a class for 180 days for 50 minutes each day, for a total of 9,000 minutes.
Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee said she spoke with LCHS Principal Stephanie Woods about wanting to remain on block.
“This is her (Woods’) first year as principal,” Lee said. “There are a number of things she wants to give due diligence to as it relates to just overall operations at Liberty High school. She is in no wise opposed to block scheduling. She’s saying that timing is everything and if Bradwell moves forward with it, it will allow her and her teachers an opportunity to observe it roll out.”
Repeated efforts by the Coastal Courier to reach Woods by phone and email over the last week were unsuccessful.
In an email, Bradwell Principal Scott Carrier said he did not make the decision lightly.
“We examined test data, talked with stakeholders, including counselors and teachers, and looked at schools that have made this same transition,” he said. “We considered many things, including the fact that this will give additional instructional time to all classes, will allow our teachers to have comon planning time, and it will increase the number of pathway completions.”
The traditional schedule eliminates large gaps of time between courses in the same content area, Scott said. He said it would be an entire year without any math, for example, and this is a major problem with block scheduling.
Bradwell’s School Governance Team did not vote on the issue of scheduling because, Carrier said, it involved day-to-day school operations. He did provide information about the switch and said that most Governance Team members were excited about the possibilities and advantages of traditional scheduling. An informational meeting with parents will be scheduled soon, he said.
During the Feb. 23 BoE meeting, Avant said her staff will continue to research the scheduling changes and will help facilitate discussions with principals, teachers, and community members.
Lee said she would prefer that both schools be on the same schedule, but she noted that the district’s elementary schools start at the same time yet have different schedules during the day. Her main concern was the possibility of discipline problems increasing because of the higher number of class changes each day under the traditional schedule.
Board member Verdell Jones asked about credit recovery. Lee said that credit recovery could be done during the additional 900 minutes of instruction time with the traditional schedule through online classes and it’s an opportunity for students to gain more credits.
Board member Carol Guyett said there are different types of block scheduling. She asked why Bradwell administration did not examine other options to address challenges with block scheduling instead of changing to traditional. Lee said those block scheduling challenges can be addressed with the additional time under traditional scheduling.
Board member Marcus Scott IV opposed the seven-period day. Scott talked about his experience with switching from block to traditional at Jenkins High School in Savannah, were he works as an assistant principal. He said discipline problems increased because of more-frequent class changes and, shortly after the first year, the high school’s schedule switched back to block.
Board member Dr. Yvette Keel’s main concern was whether there is evidence of a school system running both types of schedules at the same time with a career academy. Avant said she would investigate.
Jones emphasized that children must come first, then everyone else will have to get in line.
“We don’t want any students to suffer at Bradwell while they’re piloting this,” Jones said. “My expectation is that every student has the opportunity to get the education they need to achieve, to get credit recovery, to graduate.”
Jones added that she is also for the teachers because a healthy teacher in the classroom creates a healthy learning experience for students.
Lee said the change will afford more opportunities to increase scores.
“Not everybody is going to agree with it and the launching of it,” Lee said. “Everything you do takes two to three years before you see results. … It’s not a guarantee to increase student achievement, but a guarantee to provide more opportunities for achievement.”