Highland School Board September Meeting
Normally during the Highland School Board meetings, the public comment period on the agenda is just a bullet point, with little comment featured. That was not the case during the Board’s September meeting, as a number of parents in attendance expressed their concerns about the early start to the school year, which began on August 15th. A number of issues were raised, including excessive heat in the classrooms, busy schedules for students involved in showing animals at the fair, and loss of home time, either for summer vacation activities or education that occurs at home and with family. Suggestions included limiting Christmas break and personal development days for faculty, and early release for students in extremely warm conditions.
Superintendent Dr. Thomas Schott responded to the concerns, noting that to even be qualified to start before Labor Day, a school system has to average nine missed days or more, and over the last eight years, Highland has averaged 14. He underscored that his intent was for students to attend 180 days of school, not the 990 hour minimum, to provide the best education possible, and drew a correlation to the fact that either one or both schools had not been accredited in the past when the minimums were used. He holds meetings for parents and community members on the Thursday following Board meetings, and reported that when the current year’s calendar was resented, the feedback he received was that the Christmas break time be left in. Teachers do have input into setting the calendar schedule – also, there were no professional development days scheduled before he became superintendent, and these days can be used for make-up days if needed.
He and the Board addressed the possibility of early release by noting the difficulty of deciding at what temperature this should occur, plus the inconveniences this could cause for parents, especially of elementary students. Everyone on both sides agreed that this year’s weather is unusual, and has brought the issue into greater focus.
In other items, the Board:
- Approved personnel as discussed in closed meeting
- Declared a bus as surplus
- Approved an overnight FFA field trip to the National convention
- And approved a one year extension and a one year trial, respectively, for home school students to participate in band and DI/Lego programs
In elementary and high school reports, both principals reported excellent starts to the school year. Congratulations were offered to the school marching band, which took judges choice in the fair parade, and the start of athletic and club activities were noted, including 31 students involved with the Mid-Kids Radio Club.