Shortly after schools celebrated their annual hump day — “Day 100” — top officials are already looking forward to the next year.
Calendars are being reviewed; high school scheduling is always an issue as schools try to make room for college and vocational courses that are now a staple of schedules. Schools also look to recruitment during a time when they are struggling to find math, science and special-education teachers.
Dothan City Schools is looking at a start date of Aug. 6 for students (Aug. 3 for staff members); fall break Oct. 12-14; a full week (Nov. 23-27) off for Thanksgiving; and two weeks (Dec. 23 to Jan. 6) off for winter break. Spring break is scheduled for March 15-19, with May 27 being the last day of school for students (May 28 for other nine- and 10-month employees).
Dothan High School Principal Bill Singleton told the board the teachers at his school favor moving from a 4-by-8 block schedule to a 4-by-4 blended-block schedule to cut down on students’ confusion about classes and to structure school days more like college courses. Support classes would still be taught year-round, but other courses could be taught in each semester.
A 4-by-4 schedule would also help align the system with surrounding school districts.
Superintendent Phyllis Edwards is asking the school board to approve the calendar and a proposed $5,000 signing bonus to offer to special-education, math and science teachers to be more competitive with other school systems. The bonus was previously $2,000.
The district also is continuing to look at school improvements. Notably, it is looking at a contract with Ingenius Culinary Concepts to renovate Dothan Preparatory Academy’s lunchroom with a variety seating concept that includes tables, booths and chairs and custom-designed graphic signage. The design and renovation would cost the system an estimated $155,000.
The contract also includes consulting services to improve the number of students eating meals through staff training and processes that would essentially help students move through the lunch line more quickly, in addition to social media marketing and website development.
Head Start director Denise Vincent also reported recently that the program has filed an application for a competitive grant that would fund the vast majority of its work. Vincent has informed the 67 employees with Head Start, which operates in Dothan for students zoned for Dothan City and Houston County schools, that the district is longer guaranteed automatic funding for the program after it lost its status last year and now must compete nationally.
The program has met all requirements for the grant, and Vincent is confident the program will win the federal grant administered through the Office of Head Start.
The program depends on funds from the Administration for Children and Families to fund 80% of its program. The grant requires a 20% match from local funds. Last year, more than $660,000 came from local funding.
On Monday, the school system will vote on the 2020-21 calendar, the $5,000 signing bonus, the contract to redesign the Dothan Prep cafeteria, and choose the new chief school financial officer for the system, a position vacated by Mike Manuel at the end of last year.
The meeting is at 5 p.m. at the central office boardroom at the Dothan Early Education Center on Honeysuckle Road.