The change comes a month before the first day of school on Aug. 13. The board will review the results of the switch nine weeks after school starts.
"I think if we're going to make these kind of changes we need to look at that in January, and we need to know in April what time school is going to start next year," board member Minnie Spangler said. "To me it's a little bit late."
The board approved the measure 4-1, with Ray Shear voting against it. Shear was concerned about students who are dropped off early in the morning and left to wait outside the school building. At Clark Middle, for example, doors won't open for students until 8:30 a.m.
"That's the reason that 8:45 a.m. is terrible for us, because we will have children dropped off by 7 a.m., and they will be outside for a good hour at least," said Pam Whitesides, principal at Clark Middle.
Superintendent Ed Musgrove said he will look into funding supervision for early drop-offs, most of whom have parents who have to get to work early.
"I can't support it without some assurance that the kids we know are going to be dropped off early have some supervision and shelter from the weather," Shear said. "I applaud the result other than that."
Musgrove said the benefits of a simpler bus system are worth the drawbacks.
"I would really like to give this a chance," he said. "I was scared all year long (last year) about a kid not getting home."
Clark Middle makes grading scale changes
Students at Clark Middle will see another change come August. The school's site-based decision-making council has decided to lower the school's grading scale so it matches the county's other secondary schools.
"We have decided that we need to align our grading scale with Conkwright as well as GRC," Whitesides said. "Like it or not, we are scrutinized in the court of public opinion, and when you see the Principal's List in the paper comparing both middle schools, our grading scale was about four points higher, so therefore you see a difference in the number. That was the reason."
Both Clark and Conkwright Middle schools and George Rogers Clark High School will now grade students' work on the same scale. The board voted 4-1 to approve the change, with Chair Judy Hicks opposed.
Grades will now be calculated on a 10-point scale, with an A at 90 to 100 percent, a B at 80 to 89 percent, a C at 70 to 79 percent, a D at 60 to 69 percent, and an F at 59 percent and below.
Clark Middle previously calculated an A at 94 to 100 percent, a B at 86 to 93 percent, a C at 75 to 85 percent, a D at 66 to 74 percent, and an F at 73 percent and below.
In response to a question by board member Shear, Whitesides said the middle schools did not discuss creating an aligned, but higher, standard.
"Another way of attacking that, rather than lowering the grading scale, would be to have a conversation with Conkwright, and say, 'Why don't we raise the expectations of our students,'" he said. "I hate to cater to the lowest common denominator, and that's exactly what's happening."
Musgrove said the district can revisit the idea of changing the scales in the future after the effects are measured.
"What we're finding out across the state is that by lowering this, we are putting kids into KEES (Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship) that can't make it into the second year," he said. "We are allowing more kids to go to school under KEES, but because they're not better prepared and in remediation classes, they aren't making it to the second year."
Under the KEES program, Kentucky high school students must maintain a GPA of 2.5 in college to retain those state-provided scholarship funds, which are based on high school grades and ACT scores.
The board meets again July 24 for a special meeting.