Getting a chance to catch up, after hours
Starting this month, updated evening high school program addresses more current needs
High school students struggling with school can now take classes in the evening instead, and some teachers can pocket extra cash for their efforts, St. Mary’s school board members discussed at a Wednesday meeting.
Funds initially approved for an open administrator position will now be used instead to pay stipends to teachers, counselors and administrators for additional work, said Mike Watson, public schools’ administrative and accountability officer, adding that no more full-time employees will be hired on for the evening school.
Teachers and administrators are to be paid at the supplemental rate of $26.50 an hour. Because this is not an increase in enrollment, no additional materials will be needed. While students will be encouraged to arrange transportation for the evening school, there is $5,000 budgeted for STS bus vouchers.
Starting Monday, Nov. 27, at Fairlead Academy I in Great Mills, school staff will offer evening classes to no more than 80 students who are challenged academically by going to regular high school, Cheryl Long, supervisor of student services, said.
Some children also face responsibilities at home such as watching over younger siblings or earning money to support their households, “that make it difficult to attend” school during the day, she said.
Offering classes in the evening is “an alternative to a current pathway” to graduation, Watson said.
Classes will be offered Monday through Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Fairlead building on Great Mills Road, Long said.
While Great Mills High School students are the primary focus for the pilot classes,
Leonardtown and Chopticon students will also be considered, Watson said, adding that children taking evening coursework will not be able to participate in their home school’s athletics or other after-school programs “because class would being going on at the same time,” he said.
Board member Mary Washington said this
version of evening school has been “updated for the needs of today” by offering blended coursework that students can continue online.
“This is a chance for teachers to earn extra pay in their career field … because most of them [already] have a second job,” she said.
Watson said he plans
for more than one teacher to help out with the evening school coursework, and teachers are under no obligation to take on the extra work.
Superintendent Scott Smith said this pathway “is not new, we offered a similar program all through the 1990s and the early 2000s. We moved
away from it because we introduced
[ online] APEX lear ning and credit recovery,” to regular daytime high school, he said.
Smith said the graduation rate at Great Mills High School, at 89 percent, “lags behind” both Chopticon and Leonardtown, both at over 95 percent.
Parents and children will meet with teachers, counselors and administrators to determine their academic needs prior to attending evening school, Long said.
They could also finish high school in three years if they “double up” on their coursework and file for early graduation, Watson said.
Classes to be scheduled include English for all four grades, algebra, some science and social studies courses, as well as a crafts class for a fine arts credit, Watson said. Students can also take classes necessary for the career research development graduation path, he said.
Watson said food will be offered through the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
Board member Cathy Allen said offering classes in the evening is a chance to “do something that we have local control over.”