By Kyle Lovern
CINDERELLA – The first of two public hearings on the new Mingo County school calendar was held Tuesday at the board of education offices located at Cinderella Hollow.
The meeting was conducted before the regularly scheduled BOE meeting and started at 5 p.m. It was under the direction of assistant superintendent Dr. Robert Bobbera. He and STEM Coordinator Dr. Richard Duncan were part of a 10-person committee that worked on the school calendar for the 2014-15 term.
Duncan gave a power point presentation on the proposed school calendar and then the meeting was opened up for any public comments from those who signed up to speak before the start of the session.
Duncan noted that the state Legislature made substantial changes to the school calendar statutes during the 2013 session. This gave counties more flexibility in developing a school calendar that meets individual needs, while at the same time requiring all county boards to actually provide 180 separate days of instruction.
Duncan noted that this year has been exceptional with the amount of days students have missed because of inclement weather.
The legislative changes require the public hearings to be held before the adoption of the school calendar for the upcoming year. A policy must be developed for recovery of all instructional time lost due to late arrivals and early dismissals; and OS days.
The main differences in the new calendar is the start and end dates of the school year and the amount of time given for the Thanksgiving holiday week.
If the new school calendar is approved, school will start on August 7th and end on May 20th. Instead of a week at Thanksgiving, the school system will be out three days for that holiday.
There will still be a week-long spring break in April and several Outside School Development (OS) days. The policy also says the five blocks of 2-hour faculty senate time must be included. This can be done by either using a 2-hour delay or early dismissal.
Make-up days for canceled instructional school days cannot be on holidays, Saturdays or Sundays or election days. The calendar must span no more than 48 weeks. Duncan noted that West Virginia currently does not have year –around school like some other states have adopted.
Duncan said that a survey was done and from those who responded 52 percent were in favor of the non-traditional schedule, while 48 percent favored the traditional school calendar. Just over 300 participated in the survey.
There were three persons that spoke at the public hearing against the new school calendar. They were Kelly Deskins, Matt Deskins and Alicia Deskins. The consensus of those three citizens were that the earlier start date was not favorable for the students. They cited such reasons as the hot weather, family and vacation time and parents having to buy both summer clothing and fall clothing for the start of the new school year.
The second public hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 1st, at Mingo Central High School at 5 p.m. That will be followed by a regular BOE meeting.
Superintendent Randy Keathley was in attendance at the meeting along with all five BOE members, including board president Billy Duty, vice president Stephen “Cheetah” Duty, Orville Messer, Dave Farley and Robbie Adams.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33)