"The [Common Core State Standards] ... comes from a consortium of states, it's not from the United States State Department of Education. It's because a group of industrialists got together and said, 'Hey, we need a work force to work for us in our industries,'" Edwards said. "What's great and unique as far as Georgia is concerned is that our Georgia Performance Standards are very well aligned with common core standards that are approaching us.
"... As far as we're concerned, we're in very good shape here schoolwide ... because of our math teachers, and they did a great job of unpacking the [Georgia Performance Standards] and really implementing the Georgia Performance Standards, so when it comes to unpacking those [Common Core State Standards], we're in a lot better shape than some school systems."
On Feb. 13 the Cartersville City School Board voted to approve Policy Committee Chairman Travis Popham's recommendation to change from 28 to 24 credit hours required for graduation -- the final step in the board's three-month-long process to finalize the transition.
A few parents expressed concerns during the meeting as counselors spoke of the difference between a student meeting graduation requirements verusus college admission requirements. One parent presented a scenario in which it would be mathematically impossible for an upperclassmen to acquire, for example, four foreign language credits for additional prestige on one's transcript before graduation.
Edwards responded to this concern by citing opportunities through Georgia Virtual School and said counselors will work with students and parents who might seek this avenue for school credits.
One parent asked about how the change would affect advanced placement classes.
Edwards said while change can be a timing concern for students, he cited successes within other high schools that have a seven-period day.
"Other schools do that and they're making it work, we can do it here in our school," Edwards said. "It is tough and it is going to be different when you go all this time from having pre-AP Chemistry and then AP Chemistry and then going to all year, we understand that, there's a lot of hours there, but we have to get back to what's best for everyone."
Edwards also said the school would experiment with a "zero" period that would begin at 7 a.m. and would consist of weight training or jazz band. Students would have to provide their own transportation.
Cartersville City Schools Superintendent Howard Hinesley said during a November 2011 school board meeting Georgia's No Child Left Behind Waiver, which calls for Common Core State Standards as part of its College and Career Ready Performance Index, will require Cartersville High School to transition from a block schedule - four extended-time classes a semester -- to a traditional six- or seven-period schedule beginning next fall.
"In our judgment ... the high school, under the block schedule, will be challenged to meet some of this criteria," Hinesley said.
Also in November, Hinesley reported meeting with Parent Teacher Committees at the middle school and high school to discuss the transition, saying there were questions about what the change means for employees, saying the school system hopes to be able to absorb positions and avoid having to cut staff.
Assistant Superintendent Ken Clouse said during a November interview while finances are a factor in the shift to a traditional schedule, the school system feels a traditional schedule will allow the school to better meet State Superintendent John Barge's CCRI requirements.
"In a traditional schedule, whether it's a six-period or seven-period, you need fewer staff members. You need more when you're operating on a block," Clouse said. "And this is part of the financial reason to look at changing the schedule, it's certainly not driving the decision, but it is becoming more of a major impact.
"... We think by normal attrition, retirees, people leaving and moving to other things, that we will be able to absorb positions at the high school so hopefully no one loses a job."
He said if the school system was to delay the shift there is the potential for the need to cut jobs due to overstaffing and because of a statewide increase on classified school employee health insurance costs expected to reach a total of nearly $1 million.
"On certified employees right now we pay a percentage ... it's 24 percent of whatever their salary is," Clouse said. "On classified [employees] it's significantly lower, it's not a percentage, it's been a flat fee, and that's what's been going up for the last year or so,and what we've been told is that it's going to reach 800 and some odd dollars when right now we're paying $296."
Clouse said the system feels the requirements of CCRPI call for more classroom time for students.
"With the new curriculum coming out and how we're going to be measured against that, it makes sense to look at year-long courses," Clousesaid. "On a block you only have 135 maximum hours in a particular course, on a traditional schedule, depending on what schedule you adopt, you could have 150 to 180 hours for the course."