Monday evening the Tyler County Board of Education held the first of two required public hearings to discuss changes coming to the school calendar.
Superintendent of Schools Robin Daquilante addressed those in attendance by saying, "Senate Bill 359 made a substantial change to the school calendar statutes by providing county boards more flexibility in developing a school calendar to meet the needs of the county while requiring all county boards to actually provide 180 separate days of instruction." She said House Bill 3157 delayed implementation of the changes to the 2014-2015 school year.
Major changes require that two public hearings be held before adopting a calendar. Any changes made must provide for 180 days of instruction. She explained that the beginning and closing days of the minimum employment term of 200 days in now extended from 43 weeks to 48 weeks and when developing a new school calendar there must also be a policy which requires the recovery of all instructional time lost due to late arrivals and early dismissals. She did say Tyler County has had one early dismissal so far this year. She said this has been an unusual year with the weather and it has just been very hard to get in a full week of school.
The Tyler County Board of Education met Monday evening in Sistersville Elementary School to hold the first of two public hearings regarding calendar changes for the school year. The next hearing will be this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Tyler Consolidated Middle/High School.
Daquilante said the new changes require they adopt a policy to add additional minutes of instruction to each day to recover time lost due to late arrivals and early dismissals. Another change would be to schedule four of the six Out of School Environment days after the 130th day of instruction. She said the new school calendar must also provide a two-hour block of time for a faculty senate meeting on the day scheduled for the opening of school, prior to the instructional term, and a two-hour block of time, four additional times, every 45 days.
Another change is the county boards now have discretion as to what type of day is used to make up a cancelled instructional day; they can now use non-instructional days or use an out-of-calendar day instead of remaining non-instructional days and continue to use the non-instructional days as scheduled. Pursuant to W.Va. Code 18-1-2, the school year begins on the first day of July and ends on June 30. Superintendent Daquilante said she wanted to make it clear, that does not mean school will start July 1, and end June 30. She said they have not even discussed year around school. "We are still meeting and looking at what we feel will be best for Tyler County."
She said Tyler County has a school calendar committee which is made up of four principals, the superintendent, the director of curriculum and instruction, four teachers (representing each school), four parents (representing each school's Local School Improvement Council), one student (Junior Class President), two representatives from the professional employees association, and two employees from the service personnel employees association.
Some of the considerations when developing a school calendar include looking at one similar to what Pleasants County has in order to maximize instructional time for the MOVTI students so as to guarantee their 8,100 minutes per year, per course. She felt it is important to stay close to the calendars of the other schools who also use the technical school. She also said the current school year for students will end May 30 and June 3, will be the last day for teachers.
When considering a school calendar the availability of personnel/substitutes during certain times of the year must be taken into account. They also must look at dates when students are required to report for conditioning for fall sports/extra curricular activities.
Daquilante said she believes the start of the school year will be very similar to what it has been in the past. "We want to try and get school started to where we don't have to go until the end of June," she said. "If we waited until after Labor Day to start school, we would be going for sure until the end of June. If you were to come to the high school on Aug 1, you would see that we have about 300 kids here already at that time of year. So we feel starting sometime in August is best and hoping to get out by the first or second week in June.
"We have have kids who are very involved in the fair and we also have teachers who are active with the fair, so we are looking at that as well."
Alex Northcraft asked if there were any other reasons besides having to work with other counties, that the board was not interested in year-round school. Daquilante said it's not that they are against it, it's just that they had not discussed it. He then asked her if they could see maybe discussing it in the future.
Board member Jimmy Wyatt answered that it would have to be a state mandate because with school athletics and extra curricular schedules, it would be very difficult. The SSAC would have to be involved and the way he sees it, the initiative would have to come from the state. Northcraft mentioned Cameron as an example, stating he wasn't sure how it worked out for them. Daquilante said Cameron doesn't really do year round, they just started early and take more breaks during the school year and are still able to match up with the other schools' schedules.
There were also several questions asked from the audience as to why school has been cancelled on certain days. Some felt the roads may have been good enough to have school. Superintendent Daquilante explained that she is in contact with the transportation director and when they believe there is a safety issue, such as snow or ice or cold weather, she will do what she believes is best for the safety of the children.
The next public hearing will be held Thursday, 6:30 p.m., at the board office at Tyler Consolidated Middle/High School.