Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

March 13, 2014

BC, Metcalfe await snow days decision

GLASGOW — At least for now, Barren County Schools’ calendar for the current academic year places the last day of school on June 2, but an alternate plan is already in place.

The Barren County Board of Education unanimously approved two calendars at its regular meeting Thursday in response to a total of 16 school days having been missed this year, including all five days last week.

The option with students’ last day on June 2, identified as the “accumulated days calendar,” assumes the school system would have to make up all of the 14 days it hasn’t already. Students already had to go to school two days in February that originally were scheduled as days off during the state Beta Club convention, said Mark Wallace, assistant superintendent.

Normally, school systems have to miss at least 20 days to ask for a waiver on the 170 minimum instructional days, but legislation pending in the Kentucky General Assembly could cut in half the number of missed days necessary to be eligible for relief.

The second calendar the board approved, called the “calamity days calendar,” would kick in automatically if either of two possible bills making their way through the legislative process become law.

If Barren County only has to make up four of those remaining 14 snow days, students’ last day of school would be May 23.

Regardless of which of those two calendars is used, Wallace said, spring break will be left intact, and there are no plans for longer-than-normal days or school on Saturdays. The original calendar, though, call for two short days that now will be full days.

Both versions of calendars will be posted on the school district’s website with explanations, Wallace said.

Both proposed pieces of legislation have strings attached, though, and one has more than the other.

House Bill 410 was introduced Feb. 19 and would allow waivers for up to 10 instructional days.

The bill also would require certified and classified school personnel to make up any instructional days waived “by participating in instructional activities or professional development or by being assigned additional work responsibilities.”

The House Education Committee passed the bill Wednesday and it was on the consent calendar for the full House to consider Thursday. The status of that bill was unclear Thursday at press time.

House Bill 211 originally related solely to reorganizing some offices and divisions within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, and it had already made it through the House and into the Senate.

The Senate, though, amended HB 211 to add wording similar to HB 410.

With either bill, Wallace said, “it’s pretty clear staff will have to make it up.”

Wallace told his board it would likely be at least Monday before HB 211 could be approved by the Senate. If the Senate passes it, it would go back to the House for concurrence before being sent to the governor for his signature.

Metcalfe County Schools Superintendent Benny Lile said late Thursday afternoon he was under that impression as well. The last he’d heard was that it had been sent back to the Senate Education Committee for clarification because it included two or three statements that could be open to interpretation regarding who would be eligible for those 10 days to be waived.

School districts can build extra instructional days into their calendars beyond that 170 minimum, and they can be used as make-up days. For example, Barren County had 173 scheduled days, Wallace said, but that number can vary across districts.

The newer version of HB 211 could require school districts to use more built-in make-up days before they are eligible for the waiver, and Wallace said part of what is unclear about the wording is how many such make-up days would have to be used to be eligible.

Metcalfe County has missed a total of 18 days. The original last day for students would have been May 21, but to make up all the snow days without encroaching into spring break, they would have to attend school through the first week of June. Spring break is scheduled for March 31 to April 4.

People have already made plans for spring break and for that first week of June, Lile said, and the school system has to consider what attendance would be like during those times and how much could get accomplished if a significant number of students are absent.

“If we could protect that and get back into May, that would be our first goal,” he said. “We want to avoid [cutting into] spring break.”

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