Schools adjusting calendar for snow days

NEW CUMBERLAND-Hancock County Schools are applying the lessons of this year’s harsh winter to next year’s school calendar.

Superintendent Suzan Smith told the school board on Monday that the 2014-2015 school year will have more out-of-school, or OS, days built in so that snow days don’t have to be made up at the end of the year.

“Our intention is to develop a calendar similar to this year,” Smith said. “We are attempting to build in days.”

This year, Hancock County Schools have had 11 snow days and four days with two-hour delays because of inclement weather, she said. “This has been a very unusual winter. We don’t normally have that many snow days,” she said.

A survey of parents in the district showed that people want a “traditional” calendar that does not differ significantly from the current system, Smith said.

“People would rather have days built into the calendar rather than adding days (to the end of the year),” she said. “We are going to try to build some days in the calendar and add some OS days at the end of the year-so we can use them as OS days and not as makeup days.”

In addition to adjusting for snow days, the board is developing a school calendar policy in light of Senate Bill 359-a wide-ranging education reform law that changes the length of the school year in West Virginia from 43 weeks to 48 weeks.

The bill, passed by the West Virginia legislature in 2013, means that local school districts have up to 48 weeks to make up any days lost to weather, board President Jerry Durante said.

The board will hold the second of two public hearings on the calendar change at 5 p.m. March 17 at the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center.

As a result of this year’s snow days, four days will be made up on April 14, 15, 16 and 17-which had been scheduled as OS days for Easter break. Students now will have only Good Friday and the Monday after Easter off, Smith said.

Other days will be made up by having school on May 12, the Monday before the primary election, and on June 6, previously scheduled as an instructional support and enhancement (ISE) day for teachers. Thus, June 6 will be the last day of school for students, Smith said.

The ISE day will instead be held on June 9.

Also, May 20, which had been scheduled with a two-hour delay, will now be held as a full day for students, Smith said.

Graduation dates-June 2 for Oak Glen High School and June 3 for Weir High-will stay the same, according to a revised 2013-2014 calendar adopted by the board on Monday.

Also Monday, the school board:

* Approved Allison Elementary, Weir Middle, Liberty Elementary, New Manchester Elementary, Weirton Heights Elementary and Broadview Elementary schools as polling sites for the May 13 primary election.

* Accepted a bid of $305,450 from Virco for furniture for the new Weirton Elementary School.