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Twelve of Guilford County's 14 high schools will use a block schedule next year, the school district announced Friday.

Eight high schools will switch to a version of a block schedule, which gets its name because classes are lengthened into 90-minute blocks that run for just a semester. Four schools already on a block schedule said they would not change.Two high schools, Grimsley and Northwest, will remain on a traditional schedule for at least another year and perhaps longer. Students at these schools take six classes each day that run about 55 minutes.

A parent at Northwest, where there was bitter opposition to changing schedules, said she was pleasantly surprised that the school will not change schedules until August 2002.

``The more time they put into coming up with a final plan, the better it will be,' said Carol Kruep, a leading opponent of the block schedule. Because teachers and administrators will have a year to plan, Kruep added, ``I think they'll probably come up with something good.'

Seven schools will switch from a six-period day to the block. They are Dudley, Northeast, Page, Ragsdale, Smith, Southwest and Western. High Point Central, the lone county high school on a seven-period schedule, also will go to the block. Andrews, Eastern, Southeast and Southern will keep their current block schedules.

Most Guilford County high schools that are switching will use a version of the four-by-four block. Schools on this schedule offer four 90-minute periods each day. Like college courses, the block classes run for a semester, which means students can earn eight credits in a year. At some schools, students might be able to split one period into two 50-minute courses that run all year.

The block schedule, used in about 80 percent of North Carolina high schools, means profound changes for some schools.

Students will have to get used to classes that last about 50 percent longer than usual. They also can take as many as 32 classes in four years. Teachers will have to change lesson plans to account for the extra time.

Supporters like the block schedule's flexibility because it allows students take more classes in more areas during the four years.

Struggling students have an easier time staying on track to graduate, they say.

Supporters also say the schedule can help improve attendance and discipline and reduce dropouts.

But block opponents say the schedule gives students fewer hours of classroom instruction. They also worry that it will affect performance in some subjects and on Advanced Placement exams, which are given only in May. Students get college credit if they score well on these tests.

The Grimsley faculty voted Thursday night to stick with its current schedule, Principal Jane Teague said.

A faculty committee at Northwest recommended last month that the school go to a block schedule next fall. But parents and the PTSA called for a delay, and the principal, who had started a block schedule at another Guilford County high school, agreed.\ \ Contact John Newsom at 373-7312 or


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