Snow days will be made up ten minutes at a time

Published 2:37 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Not everyone agreed, but in the end, after a few other suggestions failed, the Board of Education added ten minutes to the end of each school day, beginning this week, to make up for the most recent round of snow days.

Casting the one no-vote against the action at the board’s February meeting was board member Will Crodick, who favored instead changing some half-days or days off to full days.

However, board member Dwan Craft, a former teacher, noted that not adding time to the school day would be disregarding a survey that showed a majority agreed with the additional minutes.

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School superintendent Mark Stefanik reported that 1,000 people responded to a survey about make-up days, and that 75 percent agreed with adding time each day. The second most popular suggestion was using Saturday and the least popular was taking a day from spring break. Both staff and parents responded to the survey, about 70 percent were parents, 30 percent were staff.

However, a member of the audience, also a staff member, added that people were not aware of other options when responding to the survey.

The board discussed some of those other options including changing some of the early release days to full days, and/or not closing the schools on Primary Day (because some are also polling places) and using that as a full make up day.

“A lot of people know I just won’t ‘go along,’” said Crodick, who said he was elected to the board because people know that he will “tell it like it is” and that what he is doing is looking out for the students.

“Are you saying we don’t look out for students,” questioned board chairman Dr. Bill Dobney.

Crodick responded that he did not think adding a few minutes to each school day would be adding quality educational time for students.

Board member Karen Etheridge motioned to change an early release on April 25 and the Primary Day on May 8 to full days, which Crodick seconded, but Etheridge withdrew the motion as the discussion continued, as she also suggested that the results of the survey would be different if the options were known.

At their January meeting, to cover missed days at that point, the board had changed early release days on February 14 and March 23 to full days. However, with the missed days since then, instructional hours had dropped to 1,016, below the state requirement of 1,025 hours. With the ten extra minutes each day, the superintendent said the hours would come up to 1,028.

Board member Janet Rose noted that if the board adds the minutes and more days are missed, then the board can at that time change some early release days if necessary. She also said those ten minutes can be beneficial if used during a particular lesson, such as math or reading.

It was chairman Dobney who made the motion for the ten extra minutes, adding that if more time is required, then the early release on April 25 would be changed to a full day, if additional time is needed then early release on March 30 will be a full day, and if still more time is needed then the Primary Day on May 8 will be used.

Because Currituck County High School and J.P. Knapp Early College High School are on their own calendars, that include half-days every Friday, the change in the school day applies to the elementary and middle schools.

The superintendent explained that both high schools had altered their bell schedule to make up time, and that CCHS had changed a few half-day Fridays to full days. However, JPKECHS wanted to keep all Fridays as half-days and requested that the board add ten minutes to that school day as well, which would bring students up to 1,029.5 hours.

However, Crodick questioned what other options were considered, such as making some Fridays full days, or using a Saturday, and asked how students who have classes off-campus will be impacted.

Croft noted that students taking classes off-campus already have beyond the required number of instructional hours. She also explained that students can’t go to school six days in a week, that Saturdays can only be used when it’s a four-day week.

Rose added that the Knapp staff had suggested the ten minutes, wanting to keep those Friday afternoons for staff development and opportunity for having office hours for students.

Crodick cast the one no-vote to adding the ten minutes at Knapp.

Rose questioned if the superintendent had found out about allowing teachers to make up some of those snow days by working online instead of adding days to the end of the school year. Teachers and other ten-month employees are required to work 215 days.

Stefanik said he is waiting for an answer from the board’s attorney and would pass the information along as soon as it is received.