School calendars explained; public meetings scheduled

Fred Pace

February 17, 2014

MADISON — Many have asked about the “Boone County Schools Calendar” for the current school term and the implications the recent water crisis and extreme winter weather have had on the loss of instructional days.

John G. Hudson, Boone County Superintendent of Schools, said that the last day for students for the 2013-2014 school year has been extended to Tuesday, June 10th.

“Also, the planned spring break during the week of April 21st will occur as originally scheduled,” Hudson said.

Hudson shared with the Coal Valley News that the Board of Education is beginning to consider the school calendar for the 2014-2015 school year and that the Board is seeking community input to develop the school calendar within the requirements set forth in Senate Bill 359, passed into law last spring.

“Parents, students and staff will have the opportunity to offer input into the development of the 2014-2015 Boone County school calendar during public meeting dates scheduled in February and March,” according to Hudson.

Hudson said the West Virginia State Department of Education recently conducted a workshop with superintendents to share policy changes in the 2014-2015 school calendar. Hudson and Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Lisa Beck, attended the Southern Regional Workshop in Charleston to assure counties and superintendents are prepared to implement a calendar in line with the bill.

The new law mandates that students receive 180 instructional days in the classroom per school year.

“I want to clear a few misconceptions about the new calendar,” Hudson stated. “BCS will not be having year-round school. The bill does not require that.”

The Boone County schools calendar will remain, as much as possible, a traditional calendar, such as it has been in the past, according to Hudson.

“However, there will be several changes as mandated by code,” he explained. “All missed instructional days must be made up, including two-hour delays and early dismissals. The local boards must approve their calendar, and then submit it to the West Virginia Department of Education for approval.”

Hudson added that the calendar must consist of 200 days, of which 180 days must be direct instruction.

“Those days must be completed in a 48-week window, and with a traditional calendar, not starting prior to August 1 and ending by June 30,” Hudson said. “We want parents to understand that all non-instructional days will be utilized to ensure that there are 180 days of instruction, regardless of when the school year begins and ends.”

Three public meetings for Boone County will run in conjunction with the annual School Board Effectiveness meetings. They are set for 6 p.m., February 25, at Sherman Senior High School, in the cafeteria; March 18, at Van Senior High School, in the cafeteria; and March 25, at Scott High School, in the library.

“We want the public and BCS employees to have as much information as possible, and have the opportunity to have their questions answered and concerns heard,” Hudson said. “The school system will provide samples of calendars and the Boone County School Calendar Committee will begin to have meetings following the public meetings.”

The committee will use the feedback from the public meetings to develop two or three draft calendars by late March.

Hudson said the drafts will then be submitted to the staff for their input, and submitted to the state department for review once the local board of education has selected the calendar that will be utilized.

The calendar committee chairperson is Dr. Beck, and the committee will include representatives from all the professional associations, the service personnel association, the principals’ association, parent representatives, and the central office; with a student leader serving on the committee this year as well, according to Hudson.

“By conducting the public hearings, we are hoping for plenty of parent, student and community feedback,” said Hudson. “The position of Boone County Schools is that the calendar needs to be what is best for the students of Boone County.”