The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education decided Thursday to delay the opening of East Chapel Hill High School on seven mornings this school year to give teachers extra time to work on their lesson plans.
Principal David Thaden said ECHHS officials wanted to try this new plan because the teachers were having to stay later after school, which cut down on time to catch up on their work and make lesson plans.
"The number of instructors and contact hours has gone up and it's hard for teachers to do collegiate work after school because they are going home later and later," he said. "This time will be used for curriculum development, staff development and collegiate work."
The resolution passed by a vote of 6-1, with Carter voting against it.
"Most of us who voted for it said that even if it was questionable to us, it seemed to be supported by the School Governance Committee, and we were willing to experiment with this to see if it benefits the students," said school board member Nicholas Didow.
By having more planning time, teachers could better organize and prepare for class, and could also have quicker turnaround time on graded material.
But Carter said she disagreed with the change because she was concerned about what students who were unable to come to school two hours late would do.
"There is not a clear picture of what to do with the students who can't come to school at 10:30," she said.
School officials developed the plan to open the school building at the normal time, which is 8:30 a.m. Thaden said the media center and computer lab would be open and intramural programs would be conducted in the gym.
There also will be security personnel and administrators on hand to watch over the students, as well as teachers available for the students to ask last-minute questions before exams start, Thaden said.
The new policy will only be in effect for the rest of this school year with the late opening occurring seven times total, the dates scattered across the remaining school months. At the end of the year, ECHHS officials will report back to the school board on how successful the resolution was.
"We have plans for an evaluation at the end of the year by students, parents and teachers," Thaden said.
"Then we will make the decision if it was useful to teachers, parents and students."
Some board members also were concerned about notifying parents that school would be opening two hours late. Thaden said to answer this concern, school officials sent fliers home with students, had an automated phone system calling students' families, put a letter in the PTA newspaper three times, and put letters in newspapers three times.
Carter said this year would serve as a test run to judge the impact on students.
"No one felt it would have a major negative impact on the students."
The City Editor can be reached
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.