More class time, fewer off-campus departures ahead for CHS students

Jim Grant / Nevada AppealCarson High School freshmen, from left, Aaron Woodbury, Joey Cusumano, Corey Reid and Jimmy Redlark eat lunch outside on a chilly afternoon on Monday.

Jim Grant / Nevada AppealCarson High School freshmen, from left, Aaron Woodbury, Joey Cusumano, Corey Reid and Jimmy Redlark eat lunch outside on a chilly afternoon on Monday.

Carson High School students will attend an additional class each day, and most will not be able to leave campus during the day next year, according to a plan unveiled by administrators at Tuesday's school board meeting.

Principal Ron Beck told trustees that the focus will be on remediation and creating more electives for students.

"It's going to be quite the undertaking," he said. "We're going to be looking at more apprentice-type programs and partnering with the community and (Western Nevada College)."

As it works now, students enroll in six classes per semester. They attend three, 105-minute periods each day, alternating subjects every other day. To fit in extra electives, several classes are offered as a "zero period," which begins at 7 a.m.

Under the new schedule, students will enroll in seven courses and attend three of them for 90 minutes each day. Those classes will alternate every other day, as they do now. The seventh period will be a 45-minute class that meets each day.

"We feel there are some classes that need every-day contact," Beck said.

Zero period, with the exception of jazz band, will be eliminated. That time, Beck said, will be used for staff meetings.

He said current before- and after-school tutoring programs will continue, but will now be offered during that 45-minute class, as well.

Trustee Lynette Conrad said she worried about teachers - who now teach six classes a day, but will add a seventh next year - taking on too much.

"I just want your staff to be happy and your staff to back you up," she said. "I don't want us to get into this habit of doing more and more and more with less."

Beck said the students needed to be the center of the conversation.

"When you talk to kids, who are the most important part of what we do, they want more classes, more choices, more flexibility," he said. "That's who I listen to."

Trustee Ron Swirczek applauded the move.

"It's too bad you can't start it now," he said. "Good work. Thank you."

Beck cited safety and attendance concerns as the motivation behind closing the campus during lunch, nutrition and other breaks.

"We have a lot of tardies. We have a lot of kids who don't come back to class after lunch," he said. "If we can keep them on campus, we have a better shot of getting them into class."

Only seniors with at least 16 credits will be allowed to leave campus during the day.

Students interviewed on Monday had mixed reactions to the idea.

"I'm definitely against that because I like going off campus for lunch," said Mykala Gilger, 15. "It would be pretty terrible."

Kori Walkama, 15, was ambivalent.

"I'm like 50-50 with it," she said. "I never usually leave, anyway, but a lot of people do."

Vice principal Joe Girdner said Walkama is representative of most students. By unofficial count, he estimates, between 200 and 400 students, out of about 2,200, leave campus for lunch.

"It's really not as many as you would think," he said.

Corey Reid, 14, and his friends sat at a table outside on Monday despite snow flurries.

"There's no room inside," he explained.

Girdner said that crowding is a concern, as well.

"That's something we're going to have to work on," he said. "We're going to add some tables."

He said about 400 students eat lunch at the school daily, but nutrition services representatives are confident that they can meet the needs of the additional students.

More students in the building at once may lead to increased confrontations. It could also be a problem for students who regularly leave the campus during breaks to smoke.

"We may have to prepare for more discipline problems," Girdner said. "But from a safety perspective, it's better if you can keep them in a supervised location. What we're getting is better than what we're losing."


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