The Wyoming County Board of Education’s second public hearing on the 2014-15 school calendar was held last Tuesday evening at the Career and Technical Center.
There are four calendar options, and school employees will be voting on them soon.
Superintendent of Schools Frank “Bucky” Blackwell pointed out that the calendars were designed to meet a state mandate, which goes into effect next term, that requires school systems to have 180 instructional days.
Up to now, school systems have made up as many snow days as possible. (Wyoming County has had 18 snow days this year and will make up 11 of them.)
“Next year you must make those up,” Blackwell explained.
Calendar 1 would begin on Aug. 11 for employees and end on June 9.
It allows June 10-30 to be used as make up days if needed.
Calendar 2 starts on Aug. 18 for employees and ends June 15. June 16-30 are out of calendar days which can be used for make up days.
Calendar 3 starts on Aug. 4 for employees and ends on May 29. June 1 to 26 can be used as out of calendar days.
Calendar 4 is the “balanced” or year-round option. Employees begin on July 7 and have breaks in September and April as well as the usual Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. June 5 is the last day for employees and June 8-30 are out of calendar days (but not make up days).
Most of those who spoke at the hearing favored Calendar 2 and were opposed to the year-round option.
“The board is (open) to any comments,” Blackwell said.
The superintendent discussed the process the school system uses to make decisions on cancelling school or having a two-hour delay.
He said that he and Transportation Director Jeff Hylton stay in contact with the National Weather Service.
“Most of the time the National Weather Service is within 30 to 45 minutes of what they tell you (will happen),” he commented.
He noted that parents have the option to keep a child at home if they consider travel conditions too dangerous. Blackwell said it is an excused absence with a note from a parent and that childrne are given the opportunity to make up missed work.
Parents said they receive texts from WVVA when school is cancelled or on delay and that the information is announced on television a few minutes later.
Most of those who spoke favored Calendar 2 and opposed Calendar 4.
“I’m against the summer calendar,” one woman said.
Assistant Superintendent Frank Mann noted that employees will work the same number of days no matter which calendar is used. “200 (days) is 200,” he said.
Mann said the shorter breaks in the year-round calendar might make it easier for children to remember what they have learned.
“There’s pros and cons (with each calendar),” he stated.
Several people said the year-round system presented different challenges than it would in a metropolitan area.
Board Member Mike Davis said he had spoken to people who work in school systems with year-round calendars. “The people who do it mostly like it,” he remarked.
Oceana MIddle Principal Tim Spolarich stated that he believed the year-round calendar would be good for teachers, parents and students. Everybody would stay fresh.”
Mann noted that, including summer credit recovery and other programs, there were only five days in the year when there was no activity in the schools.
“I think kids ought to be outside to play (in the summer),” one person stated.
“We’re looking (at the issues) from all the angles,” said BOE President Tommy Knotts.
There was some discussion on whether the state would eventually require all system to adopt the year-round calendar.
Assistant Superintendent Deirdre Cline reported that she had attended meetings at the State Department of Education recently and that there had been no clear indication of a mandate coming soon.
Once school employees vote on the calendar, the results will be submitted for BOE approval.