Tuesday, March 17, 2015

TOP STORY >> More hours for students

Leader staff write

The wintry weather forced area schools to close six to seven days. Those days have to be made up.

Two area school districts are taking advantage of a new law allowing missed days to be made up by extending the school day.

One district plans to just attach the days to the end of the school calendar, while another is still mulling over options.

In Beebe, Superintendent Belinda Shook said, “Our school board approved the extended-day option for Beebe at the meeting last Monday.

“As you know, this just became available with the passing of Act 286,” Shook explained. “It has been an interesting process, since it is the first time this option has been available. To be honest, it is probably more difficult to accomplish than just adding days or going spring break, but we think the additional instructional time before the end of the year will be beneficial.”

The superintendent said, “Our schedule will be eight hours, with the starting and ending times varying, building to building, because of transportation schedules. We stated the official time as 7:42 to 3:42, but, because of the staggered time when students are picked up and dropped off, that time changes by a few minutes. Most of our bus-transported students are at school by 7:30, so this gave us a good opportunity to utilize time in the mornings that was already available.”

The Beebe district has sent specific times to parents from each building administrator. “We will run this schedule through May 1 to make up five days. We will make up another day on April 24, which we had scheduled in the calendar as a snow day and one at the end, on May 29, for a total of seven days.” Shook said.

Lonoke will also take advantage of the new law.

Monday night the Lonoke school board accepted one of three options to make up snow days. The option they picked was the one that received the most teacher and staff votes.

“We will begin on March 30 (the Monday after spring break) adding one additional hour to the end of the day for 36 days (through May 18) to make up the June snow days. School will dismiss on May 29,” said Amanda Rather with the district.

She said that many asked why “we didn’t elect to start school earlier, and the administration team decided in a meeting last week that we would prefer to only alter students’ and parents’ schedules one time per day instead of two. Also, many students already struggle with getting here by 8, so starting earlier would not be a good option for them.”

Cabot had seven inclement weather closing days, and Superintendent Tony Thurman said the district is adding the days to the end of the calendar.

“Our last day of school will be June 5. We will not consider adding time to the school day unless we have additional closings and are forced into the second week of June,” he said.

The Pulaski County Special School District has not decided whether to extend the school day, the school year or a combination of both.

Deb Roush, spokesman for the district said the district, has built-in snow days set for June 1-4 plus Good Friday “Right now, we don’t know if we will have school on Good Friday. It’s all up in the air right now, but we will have a plan in place by the end of the week,” Roush said.