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NCSS sets make-up days, new school calendar

COVINGTON – After mulling over several options, the Newton County Board of Education voted Tuesday to make up three of seven days missed this year due to inclement weather. The board also approved a calendar for the 2014-15 school year.

Newton students can expect to be in the classroom from May 27 to 29 to make up for three of the seven missed days due to January’s and February’s frigid weather, extending the school year and putting off summer break by a few days. Although this conflicts with the calendar’s high school graduation dates of May 23 and 24, Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey has recommended that all eligible seniors will still graduate on those dates. However, if the state Board of Education does not approve this modification, graduation ceremonies will be held on May 30 and 31. The state BOE will hear the resolution at Thursday’s state board meeting.

Before coming to this calendar decision, the Newton BOE considered various options as to how to handle the make-up days, including adding an additional 30 minutes or an hour to each school day. These options were not chosen because they would impact after-school programming and athletics, and due to the fact that non-exempt district employees cannot work more than 40 hours in a week without overtime pay.

“Number one, it wasn’t really instructionally sound,” BOE Cabinet member Dr. Craig Lockhart said to Chairwoman Shakila Henderson-Baker in reference to extending school days. “We believe that students nor teachers would look forward to additional time during the day. Over a period of time that would wear on us. Also, what you have to look at is that you would be interfering with after-school athletics, any type of after-school programs. The recreation department is in full swing at that time, so we want to be sensitive to the family time and recreational time that families need to have in the afternoons.”

The BOE had even considered having full instructional days on three Saturdays for make-ups, but this option was not selected because of the possibility of student and employee burnout, as well as the impact on out-of-school activities and personal time with families. Make-up time during spring break was also taken into consideration, but this would conflict with the vacations that many families take and have planned for that week.

Along with the inclement weather make-up days, NCSS has planned for the upcoming school year. Students will be in the classroom from Aug. 1 to May 22, 2015. Several breaks are planned throughout the school year, including a week off in October, another week in November, two weeks for winter/holiday break, and a week off in April for spring break.

Should inclement weather interfere with school days next year like it did this year, the BOE has designated Feb. 12, 13 and 16 as potential make-up days. If inclement weather does not cause students to miss any class days in the next school year, these three February days will serve as a winter break.