Public school off Memorial Day, last day now June 2

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

The last day of school for Carroll County students will be June 2; June 10 will be the last day for staff.

Carroll County Board of Education voted Thursday on calendar recommendations made by Director of Pupil Personnel Larry Currell, which included leaving Memorial Day as a holiday. Graduation will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 1, as previously scheduled.

The board also OK’d Curell’s recommendations for the 2014-15 academic calendar, setting the first day of school for Aug. 12, about a week later than in recent years. Teachers report on Aug. 11.

Curell said starting school on Aug. 6 would put the end of school in the second week of May. Starting later puts the end of school at May 21 for students and May 22 for staff. Breaks remain scheduled for fall, winter and spring for a total of 175 instructional days.

Fall break is set for Oct. 6-10; winter break is Dec. 22 through Jan. 6; and spring break is set for April 6-10.

Should next winter be as snowy as this past year, 10 make-up days were set for the year: Dec. 22-23, Feb. 16, May 26-29 and June 1-3.

The board also approved a new system for determining senior class valedictorian and salutatorian at graduation.

The new plan gives additional points to students who successfully complete college-level classes. Superintendent Lisa James, Ed.D., said the changes will “make it harder for students to attain these levels,” and it’s possible there may be years when no student qualifies for one or the other, or either.

The board also approved a new evaluation plan for certified staff. Assistant Superintendent Bill Hogan outlined the complicated plan, based on new state regulations and cobbled together by a committee of 12 administrators and teachers.

Hogan said board approval was needed so that the plan could be sent on to the Kentucky Department of Education for review. He said the plan will only come back before the board if KDE requires major changes.

Non-tenured teachers who have been in the district for less than five years will have three mini-observations and one full-day observation each year. Two of the mini-observations will be made by the principal and the third will be done by a peer.

Tenured teachers will undergo a full-day evaluation every three years and one mini-observation each of the years in between,Hogan said.

Teacher evaluations next year will target proficiency and growth, he added. Every teacher will have established goals for each target, meaning all students must achieve specified levels.

“It’s very complex,” Hogan said. “This is the part that scares [the staff], because it’s new and different” from past evaluation programs.

Hogan said no determination has yet been made as to which teachers will be peer observers. The committee discussed appointing all teachers as peer observers, but thought that could cause problems if a new teacher was sent to observe a veteran teacher: Could the veteran teacher accept criticism from a much-younger peer and, conversely, would a much-younger peer be willing to give honest criticism of a veteran teacher?

“We then thought we’d use the best teachers in each school, but they already spend a lot of time outside the classroom,” he said.

Under the new plan, Hogan said assistant principals will be evaluated based on the same expectations as principals. Evaluations will include two site visits per year by the superintendent, along with professional growth plan and student growth goals set for both positions.

Hogan said he is setting time aside at the end of the school year to go over the new evaluation policies with the faculty.

Overall, Hogan praised the committee for its work, as did James.

“This group worked really hard and put a lot of time into this,” James said. “They started from scratch,” and she noted that the committee was forced to make changes along the way because KDE had changed its expectations several times during the process.

The board also approved a plan to make all school campuses tobacco-free by July 1, 2015, adopting a resolution recommended by the Kentucky School Board Association that would prohibit the use of all tobacco products, as well as electronic cigarette devices, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on school property, in board-owned vehicles and during school-related student trips.

Board members scheduled a work session for 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, at the board office to discuss the Regional Career Academy, which will receive $250,000 from the legislature in the state’s 2014-16 budget for planning. The academy will be a collaboration between Carroll, Gallatin, Owen, Henry and Trimble counties and will be aimed at giving students educational opportunities that would prepare them for industry-related careers.

Board members were invited, and plan to attend, a May 8 visit to the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology with members of the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative. Kenton County’s program earned KSBA’s Public Education Achieves in Kentucky (PEAK) Award last year.