Local News

Grant Funds Changes To Granville County High Schools

Posted February 3, 2006 7:57 a.m. EST

— Granville County high schools are gearing up for a big change. Students will have more options when it comes to schools, without the county adding any new buildings. The small schools plan is funded by a $1 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In Granville County, dropout rates are a problem.

"About 40 percent of our freshman class that starts with us, four years later is not with us," said Granville County School Superintendent Tom Williams.

To change that, the school system is thinking small. Two high schools will become six, and will be divided into three small schools under one roof.

Each school will concentrate on an area of learning, such as health sciences, agriscience or business and finance. Administrators believe graduation rates will go up.

"It will become more personalized," said Williams.

Computer teacher Rick Sheldahl worries the new program will limit the number of elective classes. In the small schools program, students won't be able to cross over and take a class in another school. Sheldahl also said the plan will force children to pick career paths before they're ready.

"Eighth graders don't have a clue what they want to do," said Sheldahl. "College kids change their majors every other day. Eighth graders don't understand."

Administrators say they'll work with middle school students to prepare them for the choice. As for the small school program, there is no choice -- come 2007-2008, the high school concept in Granville County will change.

The grant is for the small schools program is for five years. The school system will do yearly evaluations to see if the new program is working.