Huntsville ISD is taking steps to eliminate dropouts. 

The district’s board of trustees voted on Thursday to apply for the implementation of the Optional Flexible School Day Program at Huntsville High School. If approved by the Texas Education Agency, the program would make it easier for Huntsville ISD to obtain state funding for students with nontraditional schedules.

“This is an effort to help recover young adults that have exited the campus and are at risk of dropping out,” said Marcus Forney, assistant superintendent at Huntsville ISD. “We want to get ahead of the problem, and be sure that we don't have students that are not graduating from our high school.”

A major appeal for the district is additional funding that will allow for flexible scheduling.

The state traditionally has funded schools based on daily attendance rate, typically taken on weekday mornings. The students also had to be on campus for at least four hours in a given day to count toward full funding.

“Currently if a student does not attend for a certain period of time, Huntsville ISD does not receive full ADA (Average Daily Attendance) funding,” Forney added. “The benefits are for both the student and the district. The student get more flexibility as they work towards meeting their graduation requirements, while also balancing challenging life circumstances. The district benefits by maximizing attendance time, and by providing a unique opportunity for our students to get their education and graduate from high school.”

District officials said that implementing this program would be a precursor to the development of an alternative school at Huntsville ISD.

“One thing we want to do is be preemptive in terms of considering developing an alternative education school,” Forney said. “The superintendent has given us a charge to research the viability of an alternative school at Huntsville ISD. We definitely see the need, so we are now going out and researching the possibility of implementing that here in Huntsville.”

With the flexible school day program, students will be able to select from one of two scheduling options, which include an 8 a.m. to noon block and a 12:30 to 4 p.m. block. The four-hour blocks will allow for full state funding if the student is in attendance for the entire scheduled time, or a half-day credit for two hours of attendance.

To qualify for the program the student must be at risk of dropping out, attending an approved early college high school program or have been denied a credit for one or more classes in which they have been enrolled.

The flexible school day program is a larger program than a traditional credit recovery program, which was terminated by the previous administration.

“I wasn't here when it was done away with, but to my understanding teachers did what they were able to do in house,” Superintendent Dr. Scott Sheppard said. “The district had not pursued any way for a robust program like this. This program allows us more flexibility than what we could do without the waiver.”

Trustees unanimously approved the application for the waiver to TEA. Once receiving confirmation from the agency, the district will begin developing a plan for implementation. The program will have to be presented again to trustees before implementation.

Other action taken by trustees include:

• Unanimous approval of an interlocal agreement with ESC Region 10 for retirement asset management services through TCG Group Holdings.

• Unanimous approval of the 2018-19 compensation plan with additions to the areas of

summer school, facility rentals and transportation.

• Unanimous approval of the 2019-2020 program of studies, which outlines the curriculum and course offerings within the district.

The next scheduled meeting of the Huntsville ISD Board of Trustees will be a special called meeting on Jan. 17 at noon.