To: Committee on Joint School Services
From: Curriculum Subcommittee
Date: August 11, 2020
RE: Findings and Recommendations

Background
The Curriculum Subcommittee met on the following dates – July 28, August 4, and August 11, 2020, to discuss what curriculum would possibly look like in a jointly operated school system. Items considered included school grade level structuring, the role of project based learning, and the potential educational opportunities for students served by a jointly operated school system.

Findings/Recommendations

Grade Structuring
Members of this subcommittee discussed possibilities on how to structure grade levels such as K-7 and 8-12, to accommodate a two high school model. This model could allow for career-path tracking opportunities for students. For example, one high school facility could be used for fine arts and technical education, and the other campus could be utilized for more traditional coursework. However, because the facilities subcommittee has recommended the K-5 elementary, 6-8 middle, and 9-12 high school model, it must remain. This model ensures that the Covington High School facility remains an integral part of the new system while serving as the middle school and eliminates the need to transport students to Jackson River Technical Center. Moving into the future, a jointly operated school system could certainly still explore the specialized, two high school model, as it could possibly provide excellent opportunities for students.

Role of Project Based Learning (New Tech)

Subcommittee members discussed the role of project-based learning, which is important in any school division. There was no reservation among members that project-based learning should be available to students (as it is now in various forms) who wish to participate, but not something that is a mandatory, school-wide requirement. Several members suggested that project-based learning should be implemented under the school within a school model, as opposed to being a school-wide initiative, such as the New Tech Model at Alleghany High School.

Expanded Master Course List

The subcommittee members agreed that the full detail of exactly what educational opportunities and particular courses could be offered in a jointly-operated school division, would be an evolving process that can only truly be completed once the final decision is made. However, it was mentioned that having all students and teachers in one place would possibly lend itself for the allowance for more sections of courses and for the expansion of elective courses such as CTE and foreign language(s). There was also discussion of continuing to develop partnerships with Dabney S. Lancaster Community College that might include fine arts education and Career and Technical offerings such as virtual welding for middle school students who cannot work in a traditional welding lab due to state policy, and LPN training at the high school level. By further developing these opportunities, students could begin career development at the middle school level that could continue into the early college years.

One member of the subcommittee expressed the desire to continue to expand CTE offerings at the middle school level. Other members agreed that allowing middle school students this opportunity would be desirable, as it would allow students to be exposed to career based courses in addition to the traditional core class requirements. It was noted that the Covington High School facility, lends itself to the expansion of CTE courses as there are already CTE shops in this building. Members of the subcommittee discussed potential opportunities for technical education options such as drone technology, robotics, and career certifications in different technology pathways.

In summary, the Curriculum Subcommittee recommends that opportunities to expand course offerings in whatever way proves to be beneficial to the students of a jointly operated school system continue to be explored in detail. Additionally, the Curriculum Subcommittee also recommends to continue the expansion of CTE and elective offerings at the middle and high school levels, and to explore potential partnerships with Dabney S. Lancaster Community College to further benefit students.