Schedule changes coming to SSHS next year

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Feb. 24, 2008 - Afternoon congestion at Sulphur Springs Middle School is expected to drop significantly during the next school year, while the class structure at Sulphur Springs High School will undergo a change with the day starting and ending a bit later.

The measures are part of a plan SSHS Principal John McCullough received approval to move ahead with after pitching it to the school board earlier this month.

All of the changes are part of McCullough's plan to better enable students to meet the 4x4 (four classes each in math, science, English and social studies) requirements for graduation without seriously limiting the fine arts, vocational and other elective courses offered at the school. The idea is to get more students to attend "zero hour" class, offered at 7:20 a.m. instead of 7 a.m., thereby adding an extra period each day and a few extra classes each year, including the electives they're interested in.

By starting zero hour 20 minutes later, the rest of the schedule would be adjusted accordingly as well, with the school day ending 20 minutes later than usual as well, for a total of eight class periods each day.

Students will not be required to participate in zero hour classes, but it will be offered with more honors level courses classes during zero hour to better accommodate students participating in distinguished achievement and recommended high school plans.

Delaying the start of zero-hour classes by 20 minutes, creates a day that is "more accessible and more appealing to students, parents and teachers" while enabling determined students to add two to three credits to their transcripts.

It also means they won't have to choose between academic and elective classes, and means they likely won't have to take summer or night classes to complete high school requirements, McCullough noted. It also means students not participating in zero hour who have a way to school can sleep up to 20 extra minutes each day as well. Tutorials could also be offered during these times.

The daily schedule provides a 60 minute zero-hour class from 7:25 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. Monday-Thursday. First period would be held weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 9:20 a.m., second period from 9:24 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. and third period from 10:20 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Fourth period would include three class times and lunches. Those on schedule A would go to lunch from 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. with class from 11:50 a.m. to 12:55 p.m. Those on schedule B would have class from 12:20 a.m. to 11:50 a.m., lunch from 11:50 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. and class from 12:25 p.m. to 12:55 p.m. On schedule C, class would be from 11:20 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. with lunch from 12:25 p.m. to 12:55 p.m. The regular class schedule would resume again at 1 p.m. with fifth period until 1:50 p.m., sixth period from 1:55 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. and seventh period from 2:50 p.m. to 3:40 p.m.

Of course, transportation becomes an issue when consideration is given to one school going longer. In order to better accommodate that schedule, McCullough and school officials have proposed that all students be bused to Gerald Prim Stadium instead of SSMS parking lot for "bus exchange" to go home. Buses could arrive, transfer and depart from Prim parking lot

Designating Gerald Prim parking lot as the afternoon bus "hub" would put the location closer to five of the seven district campuses and the bus barn, including SSHS which would be the last school from which students are picked up as is closest to the stadium and the last to dismiss classes for the day.

It also cuts down of congestion at SSMS, where buses deposit ad pick up students in the teacher's parking lot, in addition to traffic from parents picking up students at the school and normal traffic through the neighborhood, according to the plan McCullough drafted.

"Additionally, High school students would not have the opportunity to loiter on the middle school campus, an issue dealt with on a fairly regular basis," McCullough noted.

"We're going to continue to pursue this," said Superintendent Patsy Bolton. "We've met with transportation. We'll meet again. We'll go ahead and make plans. Mr. McCullough presented it to the board for information. If they objected we would not be pursuing it.

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