PMHS moving back to seven-period schedule

Published 8:15 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Picayune Memorial High School will operate on a seven-periods per day schedule beginning in the 2008-2009 school year.

The school board voted to adopt the new schedule following a presentation by PMHS Co-principal Christy Pinero during its noon-time meeting yesterday. Earlier in the day, the school board toured district campuses to get a briefing on various programs at the schools and to take a look a the physical condition of the schools.

PMHS, along with the high schools of the other two school districts in Pearl River County, has operated on a four-period a day schedule for several years, beginning in Picayune when Dr. Tom Clark was superintendent. Under the four-period a day schedule, students would complete an entire year’s course work in one semester for the subjects taken, which meant many more courses could be completed using that schedule during the high school years than under schedules where courses ran the entire year. Under the new schedule, courses will run the length of the school year, reducing the number of courses a student may take during their high school career.

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Also under the four-period schedule, if a student failed a subject, it could be retaken the next semester. High school Pinero said one of the disadvantages of the new schedule is that the district will have to hold summer school or find some other way for students to make up failed courses.

However, the four-period schedule had to be tweaked over the years it was in place, especially for math courses, for students to absorb all the material they needed to pass subject area tests required for graduation.

Other reasons for the change that Pinero gave are that most out-of-state students transferring to PMHS come from schools operating on a six- or seven-period a day schedule and lose credits when transferring in. Also, many of the in-state school districts, including Hattiesburg, Bay High and private schools from which students transfer into Picayune schools operate on a seven-period a day schedule.

She said that while Hancock and Poplarville continue to operate on a the four-period schedule, the Pearl River County School District also is looking at operating its high school under a different schedule, called the six-by-two. Pinero said the new schedules should not affect the exchange of vocational students between the two school districts since the vocational classes will continue to operate on the schedule they traditionally have operated.

Pinero said some issues that still have to be addressed under the new schedule include weekly testing, since students don’t need to try to prepare for seven tests on the same day; the number of tests and daily grades need to be recorded for each nine-week period; that students who fail the first semester of a course may not be able to pass the course even if they do well the second semester; teachers now being shared between the high school and junior high won’t be able to be shared because of the differing schedules and if student enrollment increases, more teacher units will be needed.

Pinero said the high school plans to spend four evenings in March talking with students and parents about the new schedule.

During its Tuesday morning tour of the schools, members were impressed by a new program at some of the schools, Fast ForWord, which is an intensive literacy program.

At Nicholson Elementary, Principal Vera Beech said one of her students advanced in reading level by five years and three months. Beech said that much advancement was exceptional, but she said that most students using the program had improved their reading level. She also said that some students also had greatly improved their grades, class participation and behavior in class because of the program, which not only improves their literacy, but helps improve their ability to concentrate on their course work.

The school board also recognized the Teacher of the Year at each school and announced that Anita Dana at West Side Elementary had been selected as the district’s Teacher of the Year. Teachers of the Year at the other schools were Tessa Sanford at Roseland Park Elementary, Sandra Daigle at South Side Lower Elementary, Kristen Wheat at South Side Upper Elementary, Aliscia Renee Burton at Nicholson Elementary, James Huffman at the Center for Alternative Education and Carmen Herrington at PMHS.

The board also recognized Picayune Jr. Miss Alex Parker.

In other business, the board:

— Heard another presentation on Fast ForWord.

— Approved personnel matters.

— Approved consent items including donations of $200 from Bell Avon to Nicholson Elementary and $1,477.31 from the Lady Tide Soccer Club to the girls soccer team and a workshop at a date to be set in March on the MAEP and on district goals.

— Approved amendment request #1-IDEIA Part B and preschool Part C; school portrait agreement; the first reading on a board policy on Intervention; advertising for five buses, and enhancing education through technology grant application and enhancing education through technology formula grant application.

— Went into executive session on a parent appeal; on discipline; on a parent request, and on a legal matter.

Adjourned until Tuesday, March 11.