The Times West Virginian

April 8, 2014

Marion County BOE talks new calendar

Provides shorter holidays; sent to state office for approval

By Chelsi Baker
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The Marion County Board of Education discussed next year’s academic calendar yet again at its meeting Monday.

A calendar committee put together three options for next year and sent them out to faculty for a vote.

The committee sent out samples to 1,100 employes, and 866 answered with their vote — a typical response based on previous years, said Administrative Assistant Randall Farley.

However, the voting results were not as typical.

Usually, there is a landslide vote toward one option, Farley said, but this year the votes were more evenly spread among the three options.

The winning calendar proposed that school starts Aug. 21 for students and ends May 28. Graduation would be somewhere around May 22, Farley said.

Holiday breaks would be shorter, which follows along with public opinion, Farley said.

“I think this particular calendar has everything that was in the survey that we did,” he said. “It pretty much honors what the survey results said, and the people on the committee tried to make sure they honored what the survey said.”

Student have a proposed Thanksgiving break beginning on Thanksgiving Day, and they would return that following Monday.

Christmas holiday is proposed for December 24 through January 2.

Spring break would be scheduled for March 30 through April 6, but it could be shortened if Marion County schools are closed for snow days. March 30 through April 1 are scheduled as makeup days to be taken as needed.

Makeup days are also added onto the end of the year to be taken as needed, up through June 30.

The calendar dates are contingent upon the board’s approval when members discuss and vote on it April 21. The calendar will then be sent to the state board office for approval.

Superintendent Gary Price also spoke at the meeting about taking precautions to ensure the WESTEST, that will now be online, goes smoothly during its first year.

CDWG, a technology company, has 150 computers on hold for Marion County that are ready to ship overnight should a group of computers in one of the schools need replaced.

“We really can’t afford for labs to be down, and we can’t afford for large numbers of computers to be down in individual schools when that is where the testing is to be done,” said Price. “There’s not an option of doing paper/pencil. We must do it online.”

As of Monday, all systems are running and the back-up computers were not needed. They will be purchased only if onsite computers need replaced to carry out testing.  

Employees have made adjustments at labs in the schools to ensure computers have the correct programs to allow the new WESTEST program to work properly, and everything is up to date, Price said.

The central office will perform site readiness testing on April 9 to check connectivity and ensure computers will be able to handle the WESTEST program when testing time comes.

“We’ll have a real good picture then what shape we’re in,” Price said.

Other items on the agenda:

• The board recognized Arch Coal Foundation recipients Mary Ann Mullenax and Adrin Fisher with certificates.

• The board also recognized Marion County’s 2014 Spelling Bee winners and presented them with certificates from the Office of the Governor.

• The board approved a motion to advance multiple personnel onto their second, third or continuing contracts with Marion County schools. Price explained that, in past years, the Central Office has had to riff younger employees and then rehire them in later years. This year, however, student enrollment has held steady, giving them a better outlook in terms of funding.

“Regardless, nobody likes to go through the riff process, and it’s unfortunate to have to lay someone off and tell them ‘We don’t know if we have a job for you next year or not. We have to wait and see.’ Luckily, for now, our student enrollment has leveled off to the point that we pretty much can count on what we’re going to have as far as enrollment, and that determines what the state gives us as far as funding,” he said.

• Four students were expelled for one calendar year for violating the safe schools act.

“Sometimes bad news can be good news, too,” Price said. “While it is difficult to make those discipline decisions with personnel and with students, it is necessary to maintain a safe environment for students. So, it’s an unfortunate thing that has to be done, but for the safe environment for the students to learn and our employees to work, those are necessary steps that have to be taken.”

Email Chelsi Baker at cbaker@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.