School Starts Aug. 18

WHEELING – Students in Ohio County Schools will start the next school year Aug. 18 under a school calendar passed 4-1 by board of education members Monday night.

Superintendent Dianna Vargo called the approved schedule a compromise calendar that gives families two full weeks in August for family vacations prior to the start of the school year, but provides for the first semester to end at Christmas break and for the school year to be complete by Memorial Day – providing no days must be added to the school year to make up for any cancellations.

Under the calendar, the first day for teachers to report to their classrooms is Aug. 13, with students returning Aug. 18. The first semester will end Dec. 19.

The 2015 graduation date for seniors is scheduled for May 24, 2015, with the last day for all students set for May 29 if no additional days are needed. The last day for teachers next year is June 3.

Board president James Jorden and members Sarah Koegler, Christine Carder and Shane Mallett all voted in favor of the 2015 school calendar as presented, while Gary Kestner voted against it. Monday night’s meeting took place at Triadelphia Middle School.

The vote came after board members convened separate public hearings at Wheeling Park High School on Feb. 10 and Feb. 24 to discuss the 2014-15 calendar for the district.

The meetings were attended by about 300 residents in total. The school district also received 1,332 responses to an online survey asking for input, according to Vargo.

The overwhelming majority of residents were opposed to a year-round school year, while many also believed the school year should start after Labor Day.

“Parents seemed to be comfortable with this calendar because that’s what they had when they were in school,” Vargo said. “The date allows the entire month of August for family vacation.”

But a Sept. 2 start date would likely not have been approved by the West Virginia Department of Education because of potential failure to achieve 180 days of instruction, she said. Also, the school year would have extended into at least mid-June, taking the start of summer school into July and creating a year-round school effect.

Kestner said he had the sense from the community they wanted the school year to start after Labor Day.

“To clarify my vote, after 30 years as transportation director with the school district, one thing I have learned is to listen to the people – as I did at the public hearings,” Kestner said. “Their feelings seemed crystal clear, and that was the reason for my vote.”

School board members also voted Monday to award bids for roof replacements this year at West Liberty Elementary and the Warwood School. TeamCraft Roofing bid $343,000 to do the work at West Liberty Elementary, while Mansuetto Roofing will install the roof at the Warwood School for a cost of $280,605.

Ohio County Schools also welcomed two new partners in education for the district. Grisell Funeral Home will partner with Bethlehem Elementary, while the Tunnel Ridge Mine will assist West Liberty Elementary.