WINFIELD, W.Va. -- A select group of Putnam County eighth graders will soon be allowed to spend half of their day at Winfield High and earn high school credits, assistant superintendent Cindy Daniel told board members Monday night.Officials are still finalizing plans for the new "8.5" program that could start as early as next semester, said Daniel, the county's head of curriculum and instruction.The students would spend morning hours at their middle schools and take a bus to Winfield High in the afternoon to attend class and earn high school credits, according to Daniel.The group of middle school students would be in their own class, which would be taught by a high school teacher, she said.
"They'd be getting a jump start on the ninth grade," Daniel said.Penny Fisher, assistant superintendent of pupil services, is organizing the new program, but was not at the meeting Monday. Officials are in the process of identifying about 12 students from around the county to participate, according to Daniel.In other business, board members recognized Poca Elementary School for being one of 14 schools in the state named a Title I Distinguished School for 2012.To qualify, students must meet Adequate Yearly Progress -- which is largely reached by meeting state and federal benchmarks on standardized tests -- for three consecutive years in reading and math, among other things."We're very proud," Daniel said. "It's quite an accomplishment."Also at the meeting, Michel Moffatt, a parent of Conner Street Elementary students who unsuccessfully ran for a spot in the 22nd House of Delegates district last fall, asked board members not to cut students' summer break short.Last month, Kanawha County board members voted to begin classes on Aug. 9, the county's earliest-ever start date."I don't want to see that happen. Kids need their summer," Moffatt told board members.To which William "Butch" Legg, president of Putnam's school board, replied, "We're not mockingbirds," drawing laughter from those in attendance to his reference to Kanawha County.After the meeting, Legg said Superintendent Chuck Hatfield, who was ill and not able to attend Monday, meets with a committee that votes on the next year's calendar each April.Reach Kate White at email@example.com