By David Burleson, Avery County Schools Superintendent
Jan. 20, 2015. To the Editor,
Avery High School’s performances of ANNIE were truly outstanding. This was the first production ever to involve students from every school in our school system. I want to personally thank everyone for the time and effort they put into making this a very successful school endeavor for our students. We had many volunteers, from school staff to parents, who were extremely helpful and supportive. I want to especially thank Mr. Coleman Bailey and Ms. Shannon Perdue for their timeless effort and extraordinary determination over the last several months that allowed this production to be so successful. I also what all our students in the production to know what a great job they did and how proud we as a community are of them.
On another topic, winter weather always poses a problem because of the impact it has on school schedules. I think it is fair to say that most all of us enjoy a snow day, but none of us really enjoy making them up.
As we prepare the 2015-2016 school calendar, I would like to explain some of the calendar issues that we are required to deal with. One of the first issues to understand is that ten-month employees are required to work 215 days. Those 215 days are broken up as follows: 185 instructional days; eleven days as holidays; ten annual leave (vacation) days; and ten workdays. Of those ten workdays, at least two must be optional workdays.
This year, in order to get our first semester in and finish high school exams before Christmas, we began to add an additional twenty minutes to each school day for students. This additional time not only allowed us to finish the first semester before Christmas, it also provided us with extra time in case of inclement weather.
The current calendar legislation allows a school year to be defined as a minimum 185 instructional days or 1,025 instructional hours. Adding additional time to the school day does allow us the opportunity to use the 1,025 hours as a minimal school year and not be required to make-up some of the instructional time we miss. Choosing the 1,025 instructional hours minimum, requires us to subtract any instructional hours missed (i.e. delays or early dismissals) from the total hours.
At this point, we have missed three days of school. For two of those days, because of when they occurred, we chose not to make up the instructional time. Most everyone wanted to have the three days over Thanksgiving so we did not use Wednesday, November 26 as a school day, which was our first designated make-up day. The next day we missed, Thursday, January 8 was not made up and our “banked” time was used for the instructional time missed. The recent day that we missed, January 13, fell right before a holiday on January 19. The decision was made to use January 19th to make that day up so that we could do everything possible to have the six days off at Easter. Based on the feedback we received from our Calendar Committee, parents, and school staff, we were asked to do all possible to try to keep this spring break intact, which is our desire.
Based on the additional time we have added, we currently have approximately 3 instructional days worth of time banked. These days will be used to make-up the instructional time for the next three days we miss. If we miss another day, we would add that as makeup on June 4th, then the next day on June 5th. After that, we would have to consider moving to the following week in June, start taking away from our spring break, or continue our extended time. If by chance, and it would be very unlikely, we do not miss any more days of school, then we would be able to get out a few days early.
Nine-month employees (bus drivers and cafeteria staff) are paid only when students are in school. This factors in to our decision about the number of instructional days that we don’t make up.
We do appreciate everyone’s suggestions on our calendar as we strive to do everything possible to keep our students and staff safe during this inclement weather. I do encourage you to talk with us about any questions or suggestions you may have about our current calendar or next year’s calendar. We will be deciding about the appropriate time to cease the additional twenty minutes per day after the winter season.
I wish for you a wonderful rest of the winter, and let’s hope that spring comes soon. Thanks again for all you do for our school system. The following is the most current calendar rules for your consideration:
CALENDAR LAW SUMMARY EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2013
2012 Senate Bill 187 (Session Law 2012-145), applies beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, rewrites a portion of the calendar law (General Statute 115C-84.2).
School Calendars must meet the following requirements:
Start date no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and end date no later than the Friday closest to June 11 (unless a weather related calendar waiver has been approved, year-round school, charter school or cooperative innovative high school.) If waiver is approved the start date can be no earlier than the Monday closest to August 19. (Avery County Schools have filed a waiver)
There are no educational purpose waivers for exemption of the opening and/or closing dates.
All schools within the district must be closed all day for purposes of determining eligibility for a weather related waiver (delayed starts or early dismissals of two or more hours no longer apply).
Covers at least nine calendar months.
Must have a minimum of 185 days OR 1,025 hours of instruction.
Must have at least ten teacher workdays.
Local Boards shall designate two (2) workdays on which teachers may take accumulated vacation leave. Local Boards may designate the remaining workdays as days teachers may take accumulated vacation leave. Two days must be scheduled Optional Annual Leave days.
Have a minimum of 10 annual vacation leave days.
Have the same or an equivalent number of legal holidays occurring within the school calendar as those designated by the State Personnel Commission for State employees.
School shall not be held on Sunday.
Veterans Day shall be a holiday for all public school personnel and for all students enrolled in the public schools.