By EMMALEE C. TORISK
In the Campbell City School District, administrators are doing more with less.
And what they’re doing is in response to recent nonscientific survey results — which indicate that most of the approximately 200 parents, students, staff and community members who completed the 23-question survey want additional academic offerings throughout the district, along with more rigorous coursework for all students.
“We had a strong sense that the community really felt that education needed to be enhanced,” said Matthew Bowen, superintendent of Campbell City Schools, “and we wanted to offer more opportunities that stretched students’ knowledge to best prepare them for their futures.”
Bowen added that the district wanted to make these enhancements by better utilizing its current staff, not by — perhaps unnecessarily — hiring more.
Beginning this fall, for example, juniors and seniors at Campbell Memorial High School will have the chance to earn both high school and college credit through an increased number of dual-credit classes, which will be taught by four teachers at the high school.
Previously, the only dual-credit classes available at CMHS were calculus and advanced-placement chemistry. Like those two, the new dual-credit classes for the 2014-15 school year — investigations into economic class in America, and communication foundations — will be offered in conjunction with Youngstown State University.
The credits earned in these classes, typically three for each, will automatically be accepted at YSU, as will the grades, which will count toward a student’s college GPA. Other institutions will individually decide whether to accept the credit hours, which are “all [for] college-accredited courses,” Bowen said.
Jacquelyn Hampton, principal of CMHS, explained that YSU will provide the syllabus for each of the classes, giving students firsthand experience with more challenging college-level coursework while they’re still in high school.
“You have to be willing to put in the work,” said Hampton, adding that acceptance into the dual-credit classes is based upon a student’s ACT score and performance in the necessary prerequisite courses.
The dual-credit classes are available at no cost to CMHS students or their families, though the district is billed about $150 for each student who participates in a class, or roughly $50 per credit hour.
It’s an excess cost that the district is happy to absorb, however, if it means more students will remain in Campbell City Schools, Bowen said. In contrast, students attending YSU are billed $265 per credit hour.
Bowen noted that for each student who chooses a school outside of the district, Campbell City Schools lose $5,745 from the state — which is why he wants “to enhance the education here,” making the academics and extracurriculars available too good to pass up. Plus, according to recent conversations between the district and YSU, CMHS now offers more dual-credit opportunities than other neighboring districts, he said.
“We are willing to provide [those dual-credit classes] because, first and foremost, it’s right for the kids,” Bowen said, “and, secondly, we also strongly believe that our students will not choose the competition and give up these opportunities, which help our parents who are looking for a way to afford the college experience for their children.”
Other improvements being made in response to survey results include the restructuring of instructional time at the middle-school level. Classes previously were being taught in 50-minute periods, but starting in the fall, core classes — math, science, language arts, social studies — will be no less than 70 minutes each. This new model of scheduling will equal two additional classes per week, Bowen said.
Beginning in third grade, students also will be exposed to a new science, technology, engineering and math program that they’ll participate in through eighth grade. They’ll have the opportunity to take art classes, which in past years weren’t offered until middle school, as well. In addition, all middle-school students, or those from the fifth through eighth grades, will be exposed to foreign-language classes that they once would’ve had to wait until high school to start.
Bowen noted that these changes are mostly “revenue neutral,” thanks in part to the district’s becoming more efficient with both staffing and scheduling.
“The current general fund is not significantly adversely affected,” he said. “We’re responding to our community and to the needs and concerns they have expressed.”