MUSCOGEE COUNTY, Ga.- On August 10, Muscogee County high school students will start the school day 15 minutes earlier, and all of the schools in the district will possibly be under a new bullying policy. These were two of the items on the agenda at Monday night’s Muscogee County School Board meeting.
Last year, high schools in the district were under a modified block schedule. This schedule meant that students would have three 90-minute classes with a 50-minute “skinny” period on one day and three other 90-minute classes with a “skinny” period the next day.
Muscogee County Schools Superintendent David Lewis said that last spring, teachers were surveyed about the block schedule method and he says the over 80% of teachers and faculty would prefer a seven period day.
This year, high schools will implement that change, and Lewis says the district will stay with this method for the foreseeable future. Teachers will be assigned to teach six of the seven periods, with the remaining period used for planning.
In order to make the new schedule work, an extra 15 minutes needed to be added to the school day. “Because there are more class changes during the day obviously, you’re going from a model that had four changing classes including lunch,” Superintendent Lewis said. “To now going to, seven classes so that passing time during the day is an additional 15 minutes.”
High schools will open their doors at 7:40 a.m., with class starting at 8:10 a.m. and the day ending at 3:25 p.m.
Amy Simpson is a parent of a high-school student in the district. Her son, Jimmy is going into his senior year at Shaw High School. She says the new schedule will not change how her son will get to school. She also thinks the 50-minute classes will help students keep their attention in class, but seven classes a day may pose a problem for students.
“Block scheduling gives the kids an opportunity to split up the homework and not have to worry about to taking multiple tests in one day,” Simpson said, “With the new scheduling, there’s an opportunity that the students will have to take six or seven exams in one day. So, you have to worry about it from a studying perspective.”
In August, the board will also vote on a new bullying policy. The old policy defined cyber bullying as “the use of data or software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, computer network, or other electronic technology of a local school system.”
If passed, the new policy would extend the definition to the use of electronic communication that takes place not only on school grounds, but off as well.
“If they’re not talking about it, if they don’t know how to fix it, it can feel helpless,” The Family Center Counselor Rachel Snipes said. “It can feel hopeless and they may view that as a way out, a way to stop it.”