By Cody Neff
If next year’s winter is a rough one, schools in Fayette County could run from Aug. 13 to June 30 for the 2014-2015 year. Fayette County’s Director of Food Service told board members in a special hearing that a new law is the reason for the changes. Right now, the new calendar isn’t set in stone and can be changed with public input.
“Based on Senate Bill 359 and certain West Virginia codes, a few things change,” David Seay said. “The first change is this meeting. Every school board must hold two public meetings in order to hear from the public their input for the calendar and the committee will take that input into consideration.
“There is a requirement that we hold 180 days of instruction, no ifs, ands or buts about it. We must hold 180 days. Every snow day taken must be made up eventually. After you pass the eight days that you can build into the calendar, then you have the out-of-calendar days. We could literally go to school until June 30 of next year if we have a terrible winter.”
Seay said the new rules did away with ISE days, which gives more flexibility with snow days.
“They did away with the ‘instructional support and enhancement days’ — those five days when we say it’s instructional days but there are no students in school,” he said. “It was kind of like telling the coach to hold practice without the kids. Faculty will be given five two-hour blocks of time over the course of the school year to make up for those.
“Also, every time we have a delay, that time must be made up. Fayette County is planning to use accrued instructional time. Every school goes over by a few minutes and that adds up to five or six hours over the course of the year. Every minute that we miss would have to be made up.”
Seay says the law would have gone into effect during this school year, but school officials realized it wasn’t possible on such short notice.
“We know the calendar starts early next year, but when you’re facing that 180 days of instruction, you want to get going early,” he said. “You don’t want to wait and take the chance that you’ll have to go past West Virginia Day in June.”
Under this year’s calendar law, Fayette County has already gone over the legal number of snow days that can be made up, Seay said.
“We could make up more days if we had a pile of money somewhere to pay people for doing that, but I don’t think that pile exists,” he said. “So we are out of makeup days. We have eight make up days that we can do and we’ve already scheduled them.
“We had two ISE days in the spring that will be educational days, and Feb. 28 has been turned into a makeup day. April 21st has been converted to a makeup day. We have done everything that we can possibly do and we’re still going to fall short of having 180 days of instruction. That’s under this year’s calendar laws.”
One county employee says she doesn’t like the fact that the new calendar can cut into any summer jobs.
“Me, personally, I don’t know why we have to have a whole week off for Thanksgiving,” bus driver Rosie Legg said. “What’s wrong with just Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday off?
“For Christmas, why do we have two full weeks? Give us the first week off and on the 29th, 30th and 31st we could go to school. We could take Thursday and Friday off for New Years.
“For Easter, why a whole week? Why not Good Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday? I see June 30 and I know that kids don’t come to school. If you have 15 kids on your bus then you’re doing good. If they had to go the rest of those days of the year and had those summer days cut out, they’d be a lot better.”
The next public hearing about the 2014-2015 calendar will be March 3 at 5 p.m. at the board office in Fayetteville.
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Six young word warriors were also honored for their success in the Fayette County Spelling Bee at the regular board meeting.
Each placing student got a trophy, and the first and second places will go to Charleston to represent their home county in the regional spelling bee. The third place students are alternates in case one of the other children can’t make it to the Charleston Bee.
For the Elementary Spelling Bee, Gracie Ferrell of Meadow Bridge Elementary brought home third place. Cade Kincaid of Fayetteville Elementary brought home second place. Sydney Chapman of Ansted Elementary took first prize.
In the 2014 Fayette County Spelling Bee, Chloe McCrone of Mount Hope Elementary got third place. Tori MacKowiak of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School brought home second place. Carson Cochran of Ansted Middle took first prize.
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