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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2007
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Lawrence may scrap schools' early dismissal

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com 340-2443

MOULTON — The Lawrence County Board of Education on Tuesday contemplated eliminating early dismissal and switching from a block system to seven periods per day.

High school students in the county are currently allowed to leave school early if no required courses remain for them to take.

In most area high schools, students fill their schedules with elective courses, but a lack of funds and resources prevents Lawrence County high schools from offering many electives.

Students who do not take advantage of the early dismissal program often have to repeat electives. Board member Beth Vinson said she would not support eliminating early dismissal if there were no courses for students to take.

"If we have quality elective courses to offer them, OK, but right now we're struggling just to maintain a bare-bones curriculum," she said. "I don't want us to force students to stay all day long when it's classes they've already taken."

Superintendent Dexter Rutherford said the school board would have to come up with a solution to its curriculum problem.

"I think telling students to 'go home at dinner because we don't have anything to offer you' is not providing an education," he said. Getting rid of the current block system and opting for a seven-period day could help with scheduling and allow the schools to offer more electives, said Rutherford. On the block system, students have four classes each day. The classes last for one semester rather than a full school year.

The proposal would schedule students for seven classes per day. The classes would continue for two semesters. Vinson said she would not support eliminating the block system. She said a block system requires fewer textbooks and class transitions, allows students to focus on fewer classes and gives teachers longer periods for in-depth discussions.

The majority of students and teachers support the block system, said Rutherford. The school board will vote on whether to switch to seven-period days at its next meeting April 2.

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