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The Daily Tar Heel

CHCCS Board of Education considers high school schedule changes

The CHCCS Lincoln Center, located off of S Merritt Mill Road, pictured on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education met on Thursday, May 16, to discuss the proposed implementation of a 4x4 block schedule in all three high schools throughout the district. 

Students would have four 80-minute classes each day and a 35-minute “flex” period — allotted time for studying, tutoring and participation in social-emotional learning. Courses would change each semester, rather than being year-long. Other proposed options include slight variations of the 4x4 block schedule, such as the combination of a 4x4 schedule and an A/B schedule, in which classes alternate each day. 

The high schools within CHCCS currently have a variety of different schedules — Chapel Hill High School and East Chapel Hill High School both currently have a seven-period schedule, while Carrboro High School has a seven-period schedule with rotating A/B days. 

What’s New?

  • After a scheduled closed session, the meeting publicly began with a proclamation of May 8, 2024, as National School Nurse Day. 
  • The public comment section began with a student from East Chapel Hill High School who advised the board against accepting a 4x4 block bell schedule due to its elimination of year-long courses, specifically those in language departments. 
  • Several other students urged the board to not accept the schedule change, citing complications with maintaining productivity during flex periods, as well as issues with conducting Advanced Placement classes and exams and arts programs with a condensed schedule. 
    • “Understand that we are all here because we genuinely care about our public education just as much as I'm sure you guys do, and we want to see it remain great for years to come,” an East Chapel Hill High School senior said. 
  • Members of the Equity4Education action group supported the standard 4x4 block schedule but opposed the alternating A/B schedule.
    •  An E4E member said the 4x4 block schedule would help students receive more support, lighter course loads and help students recover from failed courses. 
  • Educators, parents and community members also weighed in, expressing similar concerns to students. 
    • "I'm not going to express my concern tonight about the 4x4 model and how it will destroy high school arts programs but make no mistake — it will destroy the performing arts," Ryan Ellefsen, band and orchestra director at East Chapel Hill High School, said. 
  • Rodney Trice, deputy superintendent for teaching and learning, systemic equity, and engagement for CHCCS, and Bob Bales, executive director of curriculum and instruction for secondary education and academic planning for CHCCS, presented an assessment of the district’s high school schedules.
    • The presentation explained the district’s rationale behind proposing the change, which included a goal to lessen course loads, help integrate new students into the CHCCS system and increase cross-enrollment between high schools and to community colleges.
      • “Let me be clear, our recommendation to align high school schedules with a 4x4 block coupled with daily flex time is about living up to our promise to provide all students with equitable access to educational pathways that lead to college careers and beyond,” Nyah Hamlett, CHCCS superintendent, said. 

What decisions were made?

  • Following deliberation, the board voted 4-3 to postpone their decision to the next month's meeting to allow members more time to make a decision.
  •  In a unanimous vote, the board approved a bond project proposal, part of which will help repair aging schools in the district.

What's next?

The CHCCS Board of Education will meet for a work session on June 6 and will hold a regular meeting on June 20, in which they will vote on the proposed schedule change.