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Dalhart High to change

Posted by: tdt -

By Robin Scott


David Steele, Principal of Dalhart High School conducted the annual Title I meeting in the Auditorium of the High School on Monday evening, April 13th: The meeting was open to parents and citizens of Dalhart and covered topics ranging from the 2009/2010 school year calendar to implementing an enforceable dress code. The meeting commenced at 7:00 p.m. and is required by the state.

The first topic discussed concerned TAKS testing, which occurs in about two weeks for high school students. Mr. Steele stated, "We are diligently working in preparation for the testing." He stressed the importance of parental help and added, "How the children do on their tests determines their schedule for the upcoming year. Testing for Freshmen and Sophomores is considered to be just as important as the Juniors and Seniors. It allows staff to determine shortfalls and see where assistance is needed."

The 2009/10 school year will change to an eight-period day, and include eight 45-minute regular classes with five minute passing periods in between and a ninth period at the end of the day for credit

recovery tutorials and/or detention. The high school is making the move from a standard seven-period day to an eight-period day this coming school year to accommodate the state’s new 4x4 requirements. New Freshmen and Sophomores are now required to have four math and four science classes to graduate. That changes the number of credit hours required from 24 to 26.

The change in state law will not affect Juniors and Seniors who will graduate under the old 24-hour plan. The change requires students to drop an elective like band or sports in order to gain the required credits. The change to an eight-period day will keep them from having to drop those courses, and they will have an opportunity to achieve 32 hours in four years.

First period in the coming school year will begin at 8:00 a.m. with the first bell ringing at 7:55 a.m. The 45-minute schedule will allow for the same length of the school day and allow for the open 30 to 40 minutes at the end of the day for tutorials. The 9th period is a credit recovery, tutorial and detention period. If a sophomore fails a core class, instead of requiring them to take the whole class over, they will take a credit recovery period and give them a number of assignments to recover the lost credit. The school utilizes Odyssey-ware, a computer based course that allows them to take the parts of the course they failed, rather than the entire course. That will occur during that 9th period. In some cases, students will be able to choose to take that period and in others it will be required. The 9th period will show up on every students schedule because that extra period is built into the schedule.

The 2009/2010 school year is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, August 25th. The color-coded calendar is user friendly and allows students and parents to easily determine holidays, staff development days, the beginning of each six-week period, early dismissal days and other important school and non-school days. The last day of the 2009/2010 school year is set for May 21st, with May 24 – June 4 reserved as flex days. The state is allowing schools to schedule nine flex days during the school year, for students with good attendance, who passed the TAKS test and passed all of their courses, they will not be required to attend school during the flex days.

Beginning next year, all students will take final examinations, with no exemptions. If students do not pass their courses or TAKS, they will attend the nine flex days for credit recovery or tutorials. Students have an opportunity to pass the class during those days. TAKS students who failed will have the opportunity for TAKS remediation. Mr. Steele noted, "The flex days are very new to the school and in the works. The nine flex days are the student’s incentive to pass, attend and score well on the TAKS. We believe it will really take off in the second year because in the first year students won’t really believe it’s true and they’ll see their friends out of school nine days earlier."

Mr. Steele answered several questions from parents in attendance at the meeting. Some concerns were what happens if a child is sick during the school year but maintain the A-B average and whether or not they would have to attend the nine flex days. Mr. Steele stated, "That’s part of the plan that we haven’t figured out, because state law says students must be in class for 90% of the school year. We haven’t sat down and figured that out yet. A student could be required to attend the flex days based on attendance solely."

Another topic of discussion concerned the student’s dress code. Mr. Steele stated, "This is the one I really need lots of help on. Behavior needs a little work, but I’m thankful I live in Dalhart and deal with our kids. But there are some issues we have got to handle. We are living in an age where styles have changed and we need to modify our dress code, not do away with it. The number one thing we need is parental support on our dress code." The purpose for a dress code is to "teach grooming and hygiene, instill discipline, prevent disruption, avoid safety hazards, and teach respect for authority." The school needs to adopt a policy that is enforceable, and would like input from parents.

All kids need to know we have a no cell phone policy. Mr. Steele commented, "What we say is ‘Off and out of sight.’" He also asked that parents, "Quit calling your kids during the day. We pick up a cell phone so many times and it’s a parent calling. We Charge $15.00 to get cell phones back and have taken up 130 cell phones this year." Mr. Steele wants parents to encourage their children that the policy is off and out of sight. Kids are masters at texting without even looking at their phone, and it is disruptive and is sometimes used for inappropriate purposes. Mr. Steele noted, "It doesn’t mean you can’t have a phone, just off and out of sight and not turned on in the educational wing during the school day. Even when school is over, wait until out of the educational wing before turning them on."