County schools to adopt new class schedule

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Staff

Beginning next year, Carter County high school students will be required to adjust to a new class scheduling system. The board of education approved a six period scheduling block system in all county schools at its monthly meeting Wednesday.
   After reviewing the scheduling option with all of the principals in the system, Superintendent of county schools, Dallas Williams, recommended that the board approve the move to the new block system. Williams noted that there was little the school system could do to avoid the change.
   "We have a consensus agreement with the high school principals that this is what we need to do as a result of high stakes testing which is coming through the state department of education, the Gateway tests and so forth," Williams said.
   School officials were hesitant to make the decision to adopt the six period schedule system because of its impact on the vocational department's current structure. Board members recognized that the department would be effected negatively by the changes in scheduling, but believe they were left with few other options when faced with the demands of state testing requirements.
   Board member, Steve Chambers voiced his concern surrounding potential blows to the county's vocational department because of its role in the community at large. He stated that the department is critical to the economic future of Carter County.
   "The school system is going to have to look in the future at their vocational program and the things that we are offering to make sure we have people qualified for jobs that we can do in this county," Chambers said.
   In other scheduling business, Superintendent Williams informed board members that the school system has depleted all of its allotted snow days. Wednesday marked county schools' 14th snow day, and any additional days missed will have to be taken from in-service days, Easter break, or from the week after classes are currently scheduled to end for the summer.
   Chairman, Richard Winters spoke of the superintendent's difficult task of deciding when to declare a snow day. He stated that the county's mountainous terrain and varying weather patterns make it especially hard to make the decision.
   "Having to call a snow day, having to disrupt everything is a hard decision. It is hard to make the call because you cannot satisfy everybody, but he and his staff of advisors have made those calls relative to the safety of the children," Winters said. "That is our only standard. We want to know that our children are not going to get hurt, and when we can run those buses safely we will."
   The Carter County Teachers of the Year were also recognized during yesterday's board meeting. Unaka Elementary's fifth grade teacher, Holli Fair won the distinction for grades 5-8, while 2nd grade teacher, Michelle Gourley from Central Elementary won for grades K-4. Hampton High School's mathematics teacher, Hilda Graham was recognized as teacher of the year for grades 9-12. Each of the educators received a plaque from Superintendent Williams.