Schools calendar may include Saturday make-up days

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By Kathryn Jacewicz, Staff writer

BOLIVIA—Multiple make-up days may result in Saturday classes for all Brunswick County Schools students next year.

The 2009-1010 calendar committee, which was made-up of one parent and one teacher from all 18 schools, unanimously agreed to use half-day Saturdays in times of emergency.

If a hurricane or other incident closed schools for three to four days in a week, half-day Saturdays could be used as a make-up days. The committee has designated four days in the next school year’s calendar as potential make-up days—Sept. 28, Nov. 29, Jan, 25 and Nov. 25.

“The committee agreed once again to eave the Saturday option on the calendar,” Patricia Underwood, Leland Middle School principal and committee head, said.

Saturday make-up days were introduced four years ago, but the procedure on how to use them was unclear, Underwood said. State law allows Saturday to be used as make-up days.

The committee also took a look at early release and teacher workdays, and tried to make a cohesive schedule for both parents and teachers. Moving these days to either the end or beginning of a week, rather than scheduling them during the middle of the week, helps more parents plan for after-school childcare and transportation, Underwood said.

Two early release dates are suggested for the fall semester for staff development, while three are suggested for the spring. The spring dates coincide with holidays, giving parents fewer interruptions in the middle of the workweek.

Underwood said early release days are imperative for teachers to help develop plans for meeting No Child Left Behind requirements, and gives them ample time to study data and evaluate strategies quarterly.

“It’s not a day off or an afternoon off for teachers,” she said. “They’re working.”

The committee also suggests the board eliminate Columbus and President’s Days as traditional teacher conference days, and move conference days to dates already set for make-up days, as it causes no additional schedule change. If a make-up day were necessary, school would be in session half day, while conferences would be immediately after.

“This is going away from what we have traditionally done,” Underwood said.

The committee also made sure to take all state regulations into consideration while creating the calendar. State law says students cannot start school before Aug. 25 and end no later than June 10. There must be 215 days in the calendar, containing 180 student days, 10 annual leave days, 10 holidays, 10 workdays and five protected work days, which are set dates.

The 180 days of instruction must include 1,000 hours of instruction. The 10 holidays include Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, two days for Thanksgiving, two days for Christmas, New Year’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

While the board of education has the final vote on the 2009-2010 calendar, it tabled the decision until a specially called meeting at 3 p.m. Feb. 10.

“I just really want more time to study it,” board member Bud Thorsen said. “I want to look at it in a little more detail.”

Board member Catherine Cooke expressed her concern as a parent as well and said having more time to look it over would be beneficial.

Superintendent Katie McGee said calendars should have gone home with students this week, but will tell principals to make sure all students have a copy.

KATHRYN JACEWICZ is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at kjacewicz@brunswickbeacon.com.