Lawrence Supt. Mike Armstrong and State Rep. Jill York. file photo“The last thing we need to do is set a graduation date, have people make plans based on that and then change the date later on if we are able to waive some of these bad weather days,” Jefferson Co. school board member Linda Duncan said. “I think we need to wait and see what happens with the General Assembly.”
In Kentucky, school districts may only apply for relief after missing at least 20 days of school, unless the legislature acts to give relief to districts.
Lawrence County fits that description and then some having missed nearly thirty days already this year.
On Monday, the House Education budget subcommittee recommended that Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday be able to waive up to 10 school days because of bad weather this school year, calling those days “calamity days.”
“Our language gives them pretty broad authority for a school district — if they’ve missed up to 10 days — to apply to have those to be forgiven,” said Rep. Rick Rand, the Bedford Democrat who chairs the House budget committee.
Rand said that while separate legislation has been filed to waive some school days due to the bad weather, he believes that issue will ultimately be addressed within the budget bill — House Bill 235.
The discretion would be left up to Holliday, who said in an email to superintendents Monday he would consider requests for disaster day relief based on the district’s efforts to make up days and hours, the projected end-of-school date and any additional hardships related to school calendars.
“Our teachers and children deserve adequate instructional time prior to high stakes end-of-year assessments,” Holliday said. “(And) taxpayers expect children to receive adequate instructional time.”
There are also a few bills that have been introduced that would give schools other options for, but none of those bills have made it out of committee.
“We are indeed watching the action, starting first in the Kentucky House of Representatives, relative to providing some relief to our school calendar in response to the days missed due to this winter’s harsh conditions," said Lawrence Co. Supt. Mike Armstrong Tuesday morning. "Ultimately, if we are able to request 10 days to be waived specific our local school calendar, we will indeed do so.”
By Catrina Vargo
Louisa, KY -- A special meeting of the Lawrence Co. Board of Education was held Thursday, March 6, at 5:00, after being rescheduled due to Monday's snow storm.The major focus of the meeting was the school calendar and what day school will be out for the year in light of so many days being missed because of snow.Pupil Personnel director Vernon Hall reported that the school system has missed 32 days this year. Lazer photo by Catrina VargoThe meeting was called to order and Vernon Hall, Pupil and Personnel Director, read over the options available according to state guidelines and policies regarding days that can be amended. As of Friday, March 7, 32 days of school have been missed. If no action is taken to amend the missed days, the last day of school would be June 26.Hall said there are two options; Option A would include school being in session on May 30, which is traditionally taken as Memorial Day holiday. The plan would also include ten disaster days if they are approved by the state, as well as teachers utilizing Election Day, and other days being amended. In this plan, spring break would still be taken as scheduled.
This would put the last day of school being June 6. Option B would include all of Option A, but with spring break being eliminated, pushing the last day of school up to June 2. Both options are only if no more days are missed.In the event the ten disaster days are not granted by the state, Option B would put the last school day being June 12. Superintendent Mike Armstrong said one thing that is to our advantage is that in the Lawrence Co. School District, school is in session 6.25 hours per day, instead of some other districts that are only 6 hours per day. "We have made the most of the instructional time we have had" said Hall. Board Chairman, Jim See, asked Hall if he thought the 10 disaster days would be approved, Hall said he couldn't say for sure, but he felt like they would be approved.Concerning spring break, See said he had heard comments both ways. "Some say they have spent money on travel plans, others say they think spring break should be taken away to make up lost days."School will let out on June 2 this year by not having Spring Break, BOE members unanimously agreed.Armstrong said he encouraged students to travel if they have a chance. He said for some it may be the first time they would be seeing the ocean. "If they can complete an educational enhancement by sharing their travel experience, it is a life learning lesson" he said. He also said some teachers even take work with them on a spring break vacation.Armstrong went on to say that all school districts in eastern Kentucky are having the same conversation as how to best handle the missed school days situation. He said some districts have decided to split their spring break, taking two or three days as make up snow days.
"I'm not telling people not to go on a trip they already have planned. This has been an extraordinary event, no one would've thought we would have missed 30 days of school" said Armstrong.After more discussion, See asked Superintendent Armstrong what his recommendation was concerning the options that were presented. Armstrong responded by saying "I think we should be in session all five days of spring break, with respect to those who have made travel plans."Barbara Robinson asked Vernon Hall if employees being absent during the week that would have been taken for spring break would be a problem. Hall said it had not been a problem in the past.
"We have 58 solid substitute teachers, some are on other lists, and we don't know how many of those people have travel plans." See asked Hall if teachers still get paid if they are off during spring break week even though school is in session. "I don't know the answer right now, Hall said. " We need to take a common sense and user friendly approach to these situations, and we need to work it out between now and spring break, which was scheduled for March 31-April 4."Board member D. Heath Preston made a motion to accept Option A and B, which includes all of the above amendments and the elimination of spring break. The motion was seconded, all were in favor and the motion passed.The meeting then went into closed session, then resumed where the agenda were continued, at which time they discussed a disciplanary matter.
Other items on the agenda included requests for approval for expenses, various class trips, fundraisers, maternity leave, permission to apply for grant, and personnel action update. See those on previous Lazer story.The meeting was then adjourned. The next meeting of the Lawrence Co. Board of Education is scheduled for Monday, March 17.
update: March 7, 2014
Linda Fyffe - Instructional Assistant at Blaine Elementary SchoolBernice Nichols - Instructional Assistant at Blaine Elementary SchoolDawn Rose - Instructional Assistant at Louisa West Elementary SchoolJennifer Tackett - Instructional Assistant at Louisa West Elementary SchoolTermination of Employment
Rodney Perkins - Maintenance Technician III
Vernon HallDirector of Pupil Personnel & District PersonnelLawrence County Schools
Lawrence County Board of Education
'Every Child College and Career Ready;
A Community Involved and Informed'March 6, 2014 5:00 p.m.
Lawrence County High School
AGENDA 1. CALL TO ORDER Mission: Every Child College and Career Ready; A Community Involved and Informed2. PLEDGE TO THE UNITED STATES FLAG 3. STUDENT LEARNING AND SUPPORT SERVICES 3.A. Approve Consent Agenda, as indicated:3.A.1. Approve minutes of the February 18, 2014 regular meeting3.A.2. Per diem and expenses for members present3.A.3. Contract: Lawrence County School District with Destiny Resource Management Solution: $6,447.003.A.4. Contract: LMS 8th Grade Trip Booking Contract: Smoky Mountain Resorts, Pigeon Forge, TN3.A.5. Contract: common carrier for LMS 8th Grade Trip: Spring Valley Charter 3.A.6. Fundraiser Request: LCHS CCR Trip: snack sales, jerky, chips, fruit snacks, candy; March-end of school 2014; Christy Moore3.A.7. Request: out of state trip: LC Softball team to Fort Walton, FL during Spring Break; Kenny Horn, Softball Coach 3.A.8. Permission to apply for a Pride Grant for LEES and LWES; Noel Goble, FRC Director3.B. Approve changes to 2013-2014 School Calendar 3.C. Approve to enter Executive Session for the purpose of discussion of student discipline pursuant KRS 61.810(1)(f)3.D. Approve return to Open Session4. PERSONNEL 4.A. Approve maternity leave for Katrina Maynard4.B. Approve changes regarding position4.C. Superintendent's Personnel Action/Update5. ADJOURN
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