Kids, bring your iPads to class?!? Plus, maybe more electives for Fayette high schools

The Fayette County Board of Education heard a proposal July 19 that would alter the six-period daily schedule at the county’s five high schools and another that would allow students to use their personal electronic devices in the classroom to “enhance educational opportunities.” Both proposals will be discussed further at upcoming board meetings.

Board members were presented with three alternatives to the customary six-period day utilized in high schools that, according to Assistant Superintendent Sam Sweat and others, would provide a way to earn up to 30 credits instead of the 24 credits earned under the current structure.

The three proposals include a trimester schedule, a seven-period schedule or a seven-period hybrid.

The competitive nature of college requirements and the ability to take electives and other courses to help bolster academic opportunities could be addressed by using one of the three models, presenters said, adding that all three alternatives provide more academic opportunities than what is currently provided.

The trimester schedule would include five classes in each of the three semesters of the school year and provide the ability for students to earn up to 30 credits.

The seven-period day would allow students to earn 28 credits, as would the seven-period hybrid. The difference in the two is that students under the hybrid schedule would have seven classes on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays and four classes of 90 minutes each on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Some on the board questioned how many students might want or need seven classes while others wanted the idea of changing the high school day submitted to all stakeholders to obtain their input.

The board agreed that the high school day committee should continue honing the idea and bring it back in October.

The board also heard a concept designed to enhance educational opportunities in the classroom, a concept that Superintendent Jeff Bearden called the future of education in terms of having computers or other electronic devices in the hands of every student.

Explaining the concept involving Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT), Technology Services Director Curt Cearley said BYOT is the use of any technology device that a student brings to school to assist in learning. The idea is that those devices would be used to access filtered Internet services through a district wireless network. Cearley added that BYOT can be used in any grade level.

“It makes sense to capture that computing power (of student devices) appropriately and use it within the schools,” Cearley said.

If implemented, BYOT would require changes in various policies, supplemented instructional adaptation and acceptance by teachers. The initiative would also require the installation of a wireless access network funded by 1-cent sales tax dollars.

Cearley asked the board to consider the proposal for September so that the necessary foundation could be laid for the project to be fully implemented in the 2012-2013 school year.

Clearley said that, if approved, the project would establish a pilot program in middle and high schools to determine the affect on academic programs.

Board member Sam Tolbert after the presentation asked how the project would be regulated, adding that without regulation some students might take advantage of the ability to bring their personal electronic devices into the classroom.

Sweat in response said the school system would be consulting with school systems such as Forsyth, Hall and Douglas counties that have already initiated the program to determine how those safeguards had been implemented.

The proposal was left with school system staff expecting to present further information and potential policies at the August board meeting.