Schools chief wants to see end of study hall

When Rock Hill schools Superintendent Lynn Moody told the school board in passing last week that she would like to see the end of study hall, it wasn't without some backing.

District officials already are looking for ways to work toward that goal next school year.

About 10 percent of high school students in the district will have a study hall next semester.

"It is a quiet study place for students, so it's not a total waste of time," Rock Hill High Principal Judy Mobley said. "But if they're here they might as well be getting instruction and enrichment in courses."

The main thing principals said they will need to bring that 10 percent down is more classes. To have more classes, schools will need more teachers, they said.

"That's our goal, and we'll have to look at it come budget time," said Sheila Huckabee, director of secondary education for the district.

The district's budget, which must be approved by the school board, is finalized in the summer.

'It doesn't look good'

When South Pointe High School opened in 2005, Principal Al Leonard decided he wanted his school to be study hall-free.

Leonard said he thought it was important to push students to pursue things that would help them later in life.

"Colleges are looking for students who take the most rigorous courses they are capable of taking," he said. "It doesn't look good to colleges if you don't take a full load."

Leonard said questions arose the first year because students and parents were used to having study hall as an option, but that it's been smooth since then.

With an increase in block scheduling, study halls are on their way out across the state, Jim Foster, a spokesman for the S.C. Department of Education, said in an e-mail to The Herald.

"With fewer classes during the school day, it becomes more important for students to take courses that count toward their high school diplomas," he wrote. "They don't get an academic credit for study hall, so it's gradually disappearing."

Not an absolute

Although the number of students in study hall can be drastically reduced, Huckabee said study hall cannot be eliminated altogether. For example, students who transfer to Rock Hill from a school with a different number of classes in a day might need a study hall to finish course work from their old school, she said. Others might have an internship or work-release that showed up as study hall on their schedule. The idea is to eliminate large numbers of students being put in a classroom and told to study.

Principals would continue to be allowed to grant study halls on a case-by-case basis.

"I think there's always that kid who says, 'I work an after-school job and this will allow me to get my school work done during the day,' so you try to balance that," Huckabee said.

This semester, there are 364 students in study halls at Rock Hill High and 196 at Northwestern High School.