Metro's director of schools is asking the Board of Education to replace a substantial part of adult high school programming at Cohn Adult Learning Center with a program that will offer more flexible academic opportunities.
Jesse Register wants to establish a new adult high school program based on a model he found effective at Chattanooga’s Hamilton County Schools. Possible sites for the new schools are the former Cockrill School building and the Opry Mills Mall Career Center.
“I have great expectations for a program like this working in Metro Nashville Public Schools,” Register told school board members at a regular board meeting Tuesday.
Board members discussed the proposal only briefly, and no decisions have been made. But Register wants to put in place flexible academic opportunities for students who have trouble meeting the requirements of a traditional school day. Students with children, jobs, and other major barriers to full-time class work would have more options with the new model established, Register said. And that would help improve the district’s drop-out rate, which has made slow improvement in recent years but currently hovers around 20 percent.
Students in the proposed program could take classes in the morning, afternoon or evening, or through their computers or independent study. Classes could be taken in shorter, more intensive periods — two courses every eight weeks to move toward earning four credits each semester — and students could schedule class combinations that fit their academic needs.
Register said the proposal would be a cost-effective way of serving these students’ needs. While the $1 million estimated annual budget for the new program is more expensive than the current approximately $800,000 for the programs at Cohn that would be replaced, Register said existing teachers and staff could be tapped to follow students to the program and help keep the change budget-neutral. The facility at the current Cohn Adult Learning Center would continue operating as it is now, though more space would be made available for other programs to make use of, according to Jim Briggs, associate superintendent for district high schools.
Board members had questions about the costs of the program, entrance and exit requirements, and translation of best practices to other district schools. But conversation was cut short by an event scheduled immediately after the meeting. Members of the school board will continue to ask questions of Register, and Board Chair David Fox said the proposal will be on the agenda for another school board meeting.