Makeup days set for Wood Co. students, teachers

PARKERSBURG – Wood County Schools will extend its calendar by four days for students to make up time lost to a statewide work stoppage.

The Wood County Board of Education on Tuesday approved the changes to the 2017-18 school calendar. The last day for students will be June 7, a Thursday. The modified calendar uses five days of “accrued instructional time” to make up the remaining five days of instruction for students.

Teachers will continue until June 15, a Friday, with four instructional days and five professional learning days. The move also pushes Summer School to June 19, a Tuesday, with teachers coming in the day before to prepare for students.

Public schools in all of West Virginia’s 55 county-based school systems were closed for nine days, beginning Feb. 22, due to a statewide walkout by teachers and service personnel protesting low pay and increasing insurance costs.

The work stoppage resulted in the state Legislature and governor approving a 5 percent pay increase for all teachers, service personnel, police and other public employees. The pay increase takes effect July 1.

State Schools Superintendent Steven Paine last week announced the nine days lost to the walkout would have to be made up by teachers and school employees, but told school administrators and school boards to be flexible in how students would be required to make up the days.

Keith Palmer, director of elementary schools and facilitator for the district’s calendar committee, said the proposed changes have gone through numerous changes the past week because of revisions in direction from the state Department of Education.

“I believe it’s been uncharted territory for all of us,” he said.

Palmer said Wood County Schools has about 30 minutes of instructional time each day which is above what is required by the state. Those accrued minutes, also known as “banked time,” can be used to account for two-hour delays due to issues with weather or for staff meetings.

Palmer said this year the district has used 24 hours of banked time for two-hour delays, which is about average for the year. The state superintendent has given schools permission to use five days of accrued instructional time to make up for instructional days lost during the work stoppage.

A continuing education day scheduled for March 23 will not change, Palmer said, as there are numerous professional development events scheduled which involve people and groups from outside of the county. Likewise, the district will not reclaim March 30, Good Friday, or the following Monday, April 2, which is part of school system’s spring break.

“We feel like the community would like to keep these days,” Palmer said.

Schools also are closed May 8, which is an election day, he said. Area schools are used as polling stations.

“That’s not a viable option,” he said.

Palmer also said all days set aside to make up for snow days, also known as OS days, have been used.

“We have had six snow days and we have used all six of our OS days,” he said.

In other business, Williamstown Councilman Marty Seufer addressed the board Tuesday concerning the existing Williamstown Elementary School. A new elementary school will be constructed at the site of the old Fenton Art Glass plant as part of the district’s $41 million facilities bond call. The new Williamstown-Waverly elementary school is expected to open in 2020.

Seufer asked the school board to consider donating the newer section of the school, an addition which includes the gymnasium, cafeteria and some classrooms, to the city for renovation and use as a community center.

“We had always held the hope that the old section would be demolished and the new section would be given to the city,” Seufer said. “I’m just asking you to open a dialogue with us, to keep us informed.”

Board members said they will discuss the request at the board’s March 20 meeting.

The board Tuesday also approved roof replacements for Emerson Elementary School and Parkersburg South High School. The roof replacements, which are part of the school system’s $41 million facilities bond, will take place this summer.