By SHEA STASKOWSKI
Students at Armstrong Middle School and Starkville High will face new class scheduling in the fall.
During the regular scheduled meeting of the Starkville School District Board of Trustees Tuesday night, the board voted to approve both AMS and SHS to follow a block schedule.
In old business, the board revisited a proposal from AMS Principal Libby Mosley, who presented during the March board meeting but was not present Tuesday night, to make the schedule a block schedule instead of seven periods a day.
New board member Eric Heiselt was first to report he was not for the new schedule because it called for football during the day, which in some cases was twice as much football as a regular academic class. He felt that allowing only a select group of students to participate in sports that the district may be violating Title 9. Heiselt also noted that the new schedule also considered band a physical education class, which he stated he had a problem with as it is not a marching band class.
“If we are to give a class that does not affect AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) over classes that do affect AYP, I am apposed to that,” Heiselt said. “I do not think that this is the right schedule at the right time and I suggest we table it.”
The board continued to discuss the benefits of the block schedule and worked to address Heiselt’s concerns.
Assistant Supt. Walter Gonsoulin reminded the board that block schedule allows for fewer transitions and more time for instruction and differentiated instruction. Mosley had also reported during the March meeting that the block schedule would allow for a variety of elective classes such as speech, French, JROTC and pre advanced placement.
The board voted three to two to reject Heiselt’s motion to table the item. The board then voted four to one to approve the block schedule for Armstrong.
In new business, SHS Principal Keith Fennell proposed a block schedule for the fall. Currently, SHS follows a modified block schedule, which features block-like days but on a rotating schedule. The new block schedule is a true four-by-four schedule.
The board voted unanimously to approve the four-by-four block schedule.
Also in new business, the board conducted the first reading of new policies to make the SSD board consistent with the Mississippi Board Association. No action was required as it was the first reading of the policies, and two readings are required before a vote is taken.
During the superintendent’s report, Gonsoulin was scheduled to report on the drop out rate. However, Gonsoulin explained that the state department has not conducted their portion of the drop out rate report and the rate is unknown at this time. He expects to hear from the state department soon and have a report prepared by the May board meeting.
Also in the superintendent’s report, Gounsoulin talked briefly about the district health and safety report.
“Out of all my responsibilities, I’m very excited about this because we are actually collaborating with the community and using expertise outside of our school system,” Gonsoulin said.
He explained that health and safety committees are in place at each school and they are composed of stake holders, parents and board members to work on different components to make the schools safe and healthy environments.
He added that one project he is particularly pleased with is the collaboration with Mississippi State and the Parks and Recreation Department to add soccer fields and goals to Sudduth and Henderson Ward Stewart.
He added that for next year, he is looking forward to conducting safety inspections of all the campuses to determine each school’s safety needs.
The next regularly schedule board meeting will be held Tuesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. at the Greensboro Center.