The Times West Virginian

March 12, 2014

Some patience will be helpful as new school calendar is set

Times West Virginian

— The forecast is calling for another few inches of snow this evening. We all know what that could mean — a messy morning commute, changes in plans, rescheduling and that call that will inevitably come. School will be cancelled.

We’ve done this all winter long. And though the calendar says the first day of spring is coming next week, we’re all suffering from a little snow shock.

And after 18 cancelled days of instruction time, it caused chaos for the school system, from the Class of 2014 to the Class of 2026.

Add to that changes the Marion County Board of Education must make to the calendar to guarantee that students have 180 days of instruction, no matter what Mother Nature has in store for us, and it causes a lot of frustration.

Parents don’t want their children in school through the month of June. Administrators don’t want to see that happen either.

But they have to meet federal and state guidelines.

“A lot of people are exceptionally nervous about the prospect of having school late into June simply because we had such a bad winter this year,” Marion County Superintendent Gary Price said during a special meeting Monday to discuss changes to the calendar.

“A couple years ago, we only missed two days of school for snow, and I think if we would have been changing to the new calendar rules at that time, people might not have been too concerned.

“But, fresh off a winter where we missed nearly 20 days of school and had some delays, it really hits home to people that this could happen and we could be in school into June.”

A calendar has not been set by a committee yet, which will present two options for school employees to vote on in April. That committee, which consists of parents, teachers, transportation department, central office, a principal and even a high school student or two, will take into consideration state mandates, issues that have surfaced this year, feedback during public meetings and the answers compiled from 3,224 surveys completed by parents and employees.

What may come back is what has been the resounding opinion at forums and from what administrators have told us so far — parents want shorter holiday breaks to keep students from being in school in June.

We don’t know what the calendars proposed to employees will look like, but we feel like it’s taking shape already.

The only thing that we caution people to remember is that last year, there were two snow days; this year there have been 18. It has been a frustrating year for all involved, but it’s entirely possible that next year or the year after will be a milder winter without any need to use holiday and vacation time to make up missed days.

We all have to practice a little patience as we make it through the rest of the year and plan for the next.