By JEROD CLAPP
Sticking to its plan for extended times off, Greater Clark County School’s two-week intersessions will continue to last for two weeks in the 2014-15 school year.
As the number of snow days for districts in both Clark and Floyd counties have surpassed 10 for each district, some will use their second week of spring break — now called intersession since all four districts adopted balanced calendars last year — to fill in the lost time.
But Greater Clark’s board of trustees voted to keep intersession as it did this year — to provide additional instruction for students who wanted or needed it.
“I know that some other school corporations around us are looking at intersession time [to make up snow days], but I also know we’ve got a lot of plans for our intersession,” said board member Theresa Botorff-Perkins. “I feel very strongly about the fact that we went to a balanced calendar so that we can have those times to help our kids with the most need and provide some enrichment opportunities.”
Before the board unanimously approved the calendar, Frank Denton, Greater Clark Education Association president, said teachers suggested moving the second week of its spring intersession to the end of the year and use that time for snow days. He said that way, all students could also attend instead of just the ones who need to catch up.
He said though a calendar is one of those issues where it’s difficult to get everyone to agree on, several teachers had come to him with that suggestion.
“I know you pretty much have a good idea of what you’d like, but I’ve had a lot of comments from teachers that could be a change you’d consider,” Denton said.
But Superintendent Andrew Melin said suggestions from teachers, parents and other school community members had given input on what they’d like to see in the new calendar. What they submitted for approval was a mix of all of those concerns.
“As we look at the ’14 - ’15 calendar, we think it does the best job possible, honoring all the different aspects and elements we’ve heard from many different facets of our community,” Melin said.
He said while other districts just use the second week of their fall and spring intersessions for time off, Greater Clark’s plan will stay put.
“I respect the GCEA’s position,” Melin said. “I get it and I understand it. But I think if we’re a balanced calendar school system, then that’s one of the main reasons that we did what we did. Frankly, I’m proud of the fact that our staff has made that commitment to help that many kids in what comes out to be another 40 hours of instruction that other school systems are not providing for their students who in most need of that.”
But the calendar has eight other built-in snow days. Presidents Day, Oaks Day and the Friday before Memorial Day are all listed as possible snow makeup days if the district needs to use them, as well as the time between June 5 and June 11.
Melin said technically, the last teacher day on June 4 and the scheduled commencement on June 12 could also fall into that category, but said he hopes it doesn’t come to that.
Christina Gilkey, board vice president, asked why the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Friday before Memorial Day were included as days off.
Melin said in compromising with teachers and parents, both groups felt the day before Thanksgiving would help for anyone who had to travel for the holiday.
He also said the possibility of making every Friday in May a snow makeup day was another possibility brought up by different employee groups, but administration didn’t want to move in that direction. He said since Oaks and the Friday before Memorial Day were already on Fridays, it made a good compromise.
The board passed the calendar 6-0, with Tony Hall, board member, absent.
The board also began the process to revise three of its policies to include language regarding e-cigarettes, whether they’d be allowed on campus for parents or students and whether consequences would stem from their use.
Policies for a tobacco-free environment, drug, alcohol and tobacco and pupil discipline may all include e-cigarettes as another prohibited item on campus.
The board won’t take action on those policies until its next meeting, but Melin said after the meeting that there have been isolated incidents of either adults visiting campuses or students using the devices.
“I know of at least two incidents and that really is what led to this policy piece,” Melin said. “All of sudden now, the e-cigs are there. Technically, are they a tobacco product or not? So we decided to include that in the policy just to protect us as we move forward.”