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Spring break will not be used for make up days

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By Kristin Beck

By a vote of 3-2, Carroll County Board of Education agreed Tuesday at a special meeting to continue adding on school days to the end of the year and not to use spring break week to make up any of the district’s 14 snow days. The last day of school for students is currently June 3. Spring break is scheduled for March 31-April 4.

If the school district takes any additional snow days, the Board also agreed to revisit possibly taking Memorial Day as a makeup day or a Saturday. The General Assembly also is still debating House Bill 219, which would permit schools to be in session on regular or primary election days if the school building is not used as a polling site. If passed, primary election day May 20 could be used as either a PD day or a school day for students.

However, Superintendent Lisa James, Ed.D., said 296 Carroll County High School students attend the Carroll County Area Technology Center at some point during the day, so the school would need to find alternate educational plans for them.

Chairwoman Mona Kindoll told Board Member Dru Maiden, who missed the regular board meeting Feb. 27, that she called each of the board members to see where they stood on whether or not to use spring break to make up snow days, and the vote was split 2-2.

Three options were discussed: continue adding days to the end of the current calendar; use three days of spring break as make up days, which Gallatin and Owen county school districts have decided to do; or use the entire week of spring break as make up days.

Kindoll said she also asked members if they wanted to take Memorial Day as a snow day, and everyone agreed to do so. Before the Board could vote on that, James pointed out that if the district does not miss any more snow days, the last day is on Tuesday, June 3. If they take Memorial Day off, that leaves one day to either tack on at the end of the year or on to spring break.

“If you have one day, you know no one is going to show up, as far as kids,” James said. “… If you approve, which I’m OK with, I just wanted you to maybe make it contingent so you aren’t locked into having a one-dayer somewhere.

Board Member Rob Spenneberg agreed with James. “I think a lot of parents for that one day will not put their kids in school. They’ll just pull them.”

Kindoll said she had heard Trimble County also was taking three days of spring break as make up days, but James said she had not heard that. The answer was not confirmed during the meeting.

Kindoll re-polled each of the board members on the three options previously discussed.

Spenneberg said, “After the discussion, I like the fact of keeping Memorial Day and then just adding the two days on to the Monday and Tuesday in June.”

Board member Mary Ann Pearson said, “I think we shouldn’t take spring break at all and just tack it on.”

Kindoll said, “I’m for taking three days of spring break is where I’m at.”

Maiden said, “I’m for taking Memorial Day as vacation, tacking it on to the end whatever days we miss, and keeping spring break.”

Board member Carolyn Jones said, “I’m for taking the days at spring break and not tacking it on to the end. I think it would be non-productive to tack those days on to the end of the school year for our students and our teachers.”

James reminded the Board they could revisit the issue if there are more snow days. “If that’s the vote, if next week we miss a couple more days, we can always come back and visit. I just don’t want to come back and visit spring break,” she said. “We have to let these people know and that’s why I just think it’s the right thing to do to let them know if they’ve got it or not got it.”

Maiden said she believes the Board should stick as close to the original calendar as they could because people make plans.

Jones said she has already had parents call her and say they had plans, such as camps and vacations, and they are going to take their kids out of school for them. She asked James if they would be penalized for doing so.

“It’s just like any other day, Carolyn,” James said.

When asked after the board meeting what would happen if parents took their children out of school, James said parents have a certain number of parent and doctor excuses per year. “I hope parents see the value in coming to school,” she said, noting that end-of-the-year testing will still take place during the last two weeks of school, no matter when that may be.

Kindoll argued that this is not the original calendar they started with at the beginning of the year. “At the beginning of the year, we were getting out May 17 or 18 or somewhere in that area. And then we revisited this, so this is not the very first one that we started the year with. That is kind of misleading.”

Chief Operating Officer and Director of Pupil Personnel Larry Curell said the original calendar had 10 make up days listed, ending June 4. Since then, the district made up two snow days on scheduled professional days, Feb. 17 and March 3, and had three make up days already built in to the calendar due to attending school 15 minutes longer than required every day.

“Initially, everyone should have had June 4 as what could have been a makeup,” James said.

Carroll County High School graduation is currently scheduled for June 8. Kindoll asked what could be done to ensure graduation is not moved to June 15.

James said they still have three days (June 4-6), plus Memorial Day, a Saturday and possibly Election Day to work with.

Kindoll also asked about another bill currently in the state legislature, House Bill 410, which would waive up to 10 instructional days for schools who have missed days during the 2013-14 school year. James said this only applies to school districts that have missed more than 20 days, which would not help Carroll County at this point.

Spenneberg made the motion to tack every day missed on to the end of the calendar, and it was seconded by Maiden. They and Pearson voted in favor, while Kindoll and Jones voted against.

“I oppose because I do not think that that is what is best for kids and we’re supposed to be Champions for Kids,” Kindoll said.