Brooke County BOE Selects 2014-15 School Calendar

WELLSBURG – After receiving a large number of votes from the public and employees for two potential calendars for the 2014-15 school year, the Brooke County Board of Education decided to make a compromise.

On Monday the board announced it will incorporate the most popular elements of both calendars into one. The calendar must be submitted for the West Virginia Department of Education’s approval before it may be formally adopted for the next school year.

The calendar includes a start date of Aug. 25, a two-week break for Christmas and June 4 as the tentative last day for students.

To accommodate the longer Christmas break, there will be school on the Thursday before Easter. Students won’t have school on Good Friday or the following Monday.

The last day is tentative because school officials may need to extend the school year to make up for cancellations, delays and early dismissals. While they always were required to make up for canceled school days, next year they will also be required to make up for instructional time lost to delays and early dismissals.

To accomplish that, school officials may extend the school year to the end of June. Previously, the school year normally couldn’t be extended beyond the first week of June.

But Brooke County school officials also have designated several days before June that may be converted to instructional days if needed.

Thanksgiving break will be limited to the holiday and the Thursday and Friday around it. School officials have said student and staff attendance on Monday and Tuesday that week has been scarce because it’s the first week of hunting season and has cost the school district $14,000 for substitute staff.

However, the board acquiesced to 72.7 percent of 826 parents, teachers, students and community members who supported a shorter Thanksgiving break in an online survey set up by the board.

It was the first year the state Department of Education called upon county school districts to seek public input for their calendars. Brooke County school officials have made it a regular practice to seek input from its staff.

Based on the survey, three potential calendars were drawn up for a public meeting held March 19.

Rob Robinson, the school district’s facilities supervisor, served as public input coordinator for the calendar, said he was pleased with the level of participation.

“I was surprised by how many parents responded to the online survey,” he said, noting 53.8 percent of those responding identified themselves as parents.

Of the remaining 826 participants in the anonymous survey, 21.9 percent identified themselves as professional school personnel, such as teachers and guidance counselors; 12.7 percent were students; community members, 4.7 percent; school service personnel, such as secretaries, bus drivers, cooks and custodians, 4.5 percent; school administrators, such as principals, 1.9 percent; and business leaders, 0.24 percent.

Robinson said the school board was required by the state to seek opinions on a proposed balanced calendar, which would involve 15-day breaks in fall, winter and spring and a 30-day break in July. He said he was surprised to find about one-third of the online responders supported such a calendar.