Change could be positive for MCHS

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Trimester schedules will take effect in fall

By Stephen Lega

Things will be changing - and changing more frequently - for Marion County High School students next fall.

After "living, eating and breathing," a semester-based block schedule for two years, high school officials have decided to restructure the scheduling system at the high school, according to Principal Taylora Schlosser. The MCHS Site-Based Decision Making Council has approved the adoption of a trimester system, starting with the 2009-10 school year.

Under the semester system, classes at MCHS last either for all or half of the school year. Under a trimester system, the school year will be divided into thirds, which means some classes will be offered either all year (36 weeks), 24 weeks or 12 weeks.

A 24-week class would be considered a full credit class, according to assistant principal Tammy Newcome. It also means individual students will have three different schedules during the school year, compared to the two different schedules they have under the semester system.

Schlosser and Newcome both said they are excited about the changes. They added that they have spoken to sophomores and juniors about the planned changes already. Freshman Academy teachers have also spoken with the freshman.

The new schedule is intended to make classes more equitable, increase the flexibility of the schedule for students and create more opportunities for students. As an example, Schlosser said students who may have struggled with a math or English course could retake the first section of a course during the second term. At the same time, a student who passes a required course in the first two terms could use the third term for an elective or to begin the next required course for graduation.

"We're hoping that will allow students to pursue areas they are interested in," Newcome said.

And Schlosser added that school officials hope more students will take advantage of the flexibility of the scheduling system to take the more rigorous Advanced Placement classes.

Students will take five classes per day for 70 minutes apiece, which is the same as the daily schedule for this year's sophomores and juniors, according to Schlosser.

The schedule change will also affect the graduation requirements for MCHS students. (It also creates new diploma opportunities for students. More on the diplomas next week.)

Next year's freshmen will be required to complete 27.5 credits to graduate. Sophomores will need to complete 27 credits. Juniors will need 28.5 credits, and the senior class of 2010 will need 28 credits.

Schlosser said MCHS officials reviewed the trimester schedule two years ago, but at that time, they decided to go with the semester, block scheduling instead.


Freshmen academy going away

For the past three years, Marion County High School freshmen have been kept separate from the older students during most of the school day.

The intent of the academy was to assist students in making the transition from eighth grade to high school. According to Schlosser, it has been a success as student attendance has improved and discipline referrals among freshman have decreased in the three years the academy has been in place.

Nevertheless, the academy will not exist during the 2009-10 school year.

"Unfortunately due to the economic situation, Marion County High School will be losing staff, and we will not be able to have the freshmen academy as we have the last three years," Schlosser said.

In March, the Marion County Public Schools leadership team recommended reducing the district's staff by six certified positions, including three certified positions at MCHS. Certified staff includes teachers, principals and other administrators.

Schlosser said a group of teachers will continue to work primarily with the incoming freshmen, but those teachers would also be teaching some classes with older students as well.