Pocahontas County Board of Education’s Public Hearings on School Calendar
On March 28th, the Pocahontas County Board of Education held the second of two March public hearings regarding the proposed 2016-2017 school year calendar. The hearing was prior to the regular Board meeting and was held at the Green Bank School. The first meeting had been held at Hillsboro Elementary School prior to the March 14th Board Meeting. Only a small number of parents and school employees attended each meeting.
If the calendar presented is given final approval by the Board in April, students will return to class on August 15th, although teachers will return a few days before. There is a scheduled Thanksgiving break for the entire week of Thanksgiving, however every day that week except for Thanksgiving itself could be used as snow make-up days if needed. Classes are scheduled to end for the 2016-2017 school year on May 30th, however could be extended well into June if more make-up days are needed.
Ruth Bland presented the results of the school calendar public survey. She talked about the survey’s preferred beginning date of the school year, the preferred ending date of the school year as well as the preferences for Christmas break. Ruth.
“As you can see, the majority of folks agree that you start in early August and end in late May” said Ruth. “Which is where we are right now, but late May is June first for Pocahontas Schools – 9 snow days, numerous two hour delays and three hour delays and snow routes in effect- but it actually saved those instructional days for us. What is your preference for Christmas Break? 248 responded that they preferred having December 23rd through January 2nd off for Christmas- and not using any of those days to make up cancelled days that have already occurred.”
Ruth addresses the survey preferences for Spring Break.
“The preference of your Spring Break, 151 prefer having Friday and Monday off, which is Good Friday and Easter Monday off and not using either of those days for making up cancelled days that have occurred. And that is what has happened this year. We did have a scheduled Spring Break, but due to our snow days. We made them up and just took Good Friday and Easter Monday for our Spring Break.”
Ruth went on to say that the vast majority survey respondents also wanted the first semester to end before Christmas, as it did this year, so students didn’t have to worry about studying for examinations over the holiday break. Most respondents also wanted to see the schools to begin at about the same date in August every year.
At both the Hillsboro and Green Bank Public Hearings, some members of the audience noticed that three of the six “Outside School Environment” days occurred on Tuesdays, and wanted them moved to Mondays. Those days are unique days where teachers can either come to school and prepare or just take the day off. School Superintendent Terrance Beam explained these days are contractual with the teachers unions and have to be 45 days apart, so could not be moved to a day earlier.
Some interesting comments were sent back with the surveys. A common theme was that complaints about scheduling school on the first two days of thanksgiving Break, but not having bus drivers working. A number wanted all of thanksgiving week off. One, obviously a student, wrote “I don’t think that our spring Break should have been taken away because of snow days. It’s not our fault and we shouldn’t have to go without one.” Another wrote “”We schouldn’t (sic) have SNOW DAYS (sic) they ruion (sic) are (sic) time that we have to learn.”
In Part 2 of the story about the March 28th Board of Education Meeting, we will discuss the regular order of business and the visit by WV House Delegate Denise Campbell and her briefing the School Board about how educational issues faired at the recently ended Legislative Session.