School Board members say they hope to keep spring break intact

If Caroline County Public Schools needs to make up any more time, School Board members would prefer not to take days from spring break, they said March 10.

The board updated the 2013-14 calendar at its March 10 meeting to change April 18 from an early dismissal to a full school day to recoup some of the instructional time lost to snow days.

The board voted 5-0 to make April 18 a full day and tabled the question of how the county’s 4,000 public school students will make up any additional time. Board member Shawn Kelley of the Madison District was absent.

Dr. Rebecca Broaddus, assistant superintendent, said the schools have missed 13 days and have had five two-hour delays due to inclement weather this year.

Five of the missed days were already scheduled to be made up Feb. 17 and June 16-19. Feb. 11, March 11, and March 27 were previously extended from early dismissal to full school days. Caroline’s 2013-14 calendar was originally built with 184 days—four above the required 180.

Broaddus also proposed a plan for making up additional days, if the need arises. If two more days are missed, she suggested making them up on April 24 and 25, the Thursday and Friday of spring break. If just one more day is missed—or three—then Memorial Day would be another candidate for a makeup day.

“I have a problem with that, April 24 and 25th,” chairman George Spaulding of Bowling Green said. “That’s going to be four days there of someone on a vacation.”

Spaulding asked if extending the school day was an option. Broaddus said it was, and so was having school on Saturdays.

“I’m not in favor of it either,” board member Mack Wright of Reedy Church said. “I don’t think you’ll have very good attendance on the Thursday and Friday of spring break. Personally, I’m not in favor of (having school on) Memorial Day or Saturday.”

Wright asked about the possibility of getting a waiver from the state to excuse any additional missed school days.

“The waiver from the state requires that you’ve exhausted all possible avenues of making up time. We’re required to go either 180 days or 990 hours, so to get a waiver, we would have to show that we have used every possible way in order to make up the lost time,” Broaddus said.

The 990 hours is the ultimate requirement. For a 180-day school year to meet the state’s requirements, each day must include five and a half hours of instructional time. Lunch and recess don’t count.

Dr. Greg Killough, superintendent, pointed out that April 24 and 25 are after the next School Board meeting. He suggested approving April 18 as a full day. “And let’s just hope and pray that we don’t have any more bad weather,” he said.

Killough also expressed his reservations with the concept of extending school days. He said an extra hour could result in too long a school day for kids, especially considering that some students spend about an hour on the bus each way.

Posted on Monday, March 10, 2014 at 11:31 pm