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Wood BOE holds first calendar hearing

People attending Tuesday’s Wood County Board of Education meeting raise their hands in favor of a week-long Spring Break in the 2020-21 school year calendar. The board held the first of two calendar hearings Tuesday, reviewing three draft calendars. (Photo by Michael Erb)

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Board of Education held the first of two public hearings Tuesday to consider a calendar for the 2020-21 school year.

Three draft calendars were presented by Director of Elementary Schools Keith Palmer, who also works with the district’s calendar committee.

Palmer said all three calendars use the same start date of Aug. 20 for students and a winter break of Dec. 23-Jan. 3. All three calendars also include a full week break for Thanksgiving. Where the calendars vary, Palmer said, was on the length of Spring Break and end dates for the school year.

A phone survey sent out via School Messenger earlier this month received more than 4,000 responses. The survey found the majority of parents wanted a full week for Spring Break and elimination of the scheduled 2-hour delay days, Palmer said. Those items were reflected in the first proposed calendar and no 2-hour delays were scheduled in the other two calendars, he said.

“There may still be some 2-hour delays due to weather … there are no scheduled delays next year,” he said.

Director of Elementary Schools Keith Palmer gestures to the 2019-20 Wood County Schools calendar during a presentation Tuesday on proposals for the 2020-21 school calendar. (Photo by Michael Erb)

But Palmer said respondents also overwhelmingly indicated they wanted both a later start to the school year and an early end. In Calendar 1, the last instructional day is June 4, 2021.

Palmer said Calendar 2 only has Good Friday as a day off for Spring Break. As a result, the last instructional day would be May 28, 2021.

“You come later and get out early, (but) you’re not going to have a Spring Break,” he said.

Calendar 3 adds the Monday following Good Friday as a day off, but that pushes the end of the school year to June 1.

“So they have to come back for one day after Memorial Day,” he said.

Palmer said Calendar 1 would be the recommended calendar at this point, but said the committee would continue to meet and tweak the calendars.

Superintendent Will Hosaflook said he also plans to seek more input from the community with another phone survey. The three calendars, along with the results of the last survey, are available on Wood County Schools BoardDocs page on the Feb. 25 meeting agenda.

Officials said one other thing could alter the final calendar for the 2020-21 school year.

The state Legislature is considering a bill which potentially could change the mandatory start and finish dates for the school year as well as changing how the required 180 days of instruction would be tallied.

Wood County Board of Education President Rick Olcott said a committee substitute for the House bill will be on third reading today at the state Capitol. That version removed a mandated start date of Sept. 1, but keeps other changes, such as reducing the average number of instructional hours each day to five while still requiring 180 days of school.

“It’s holding us to a level of uncertainty,” Hosaflook said. If approved by the Senate and sent back to the House, “I’m afraid the House will put those dates back in.”

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