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Setting School Schedule Turns Tricky

Different proposals for the 2011/12 school year calendar cover the table.

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – What started out as a simple project to create a calendar for the 2011-2012 school year, became rather complex before being settled Monday night at the June meeting of the District Board of Trustees.

Superintendent Dr. Deborah Moran told Trustees that a lot of teaching time was lost after testing this year because of the schedule.

“Gentlemen you have in front of you what started out as a simple choice. Now there are four,” said Dr. Moran as she presented the Board with a quartet of calendar possibilities for the upcoming school year. She said the goal is to move graduation from the approved date of May 24 to May 17 to get the last student day and graduation as close to final testing as possible.

“Starting with A and B… A and B created C. But, when we created C, we didn’t realize we didn’t have 180 student days when we moved Christmas vacation up to 16 (Dec. 16),” she said, and added, “Which in conversation today brought us to calendar D.”

Board members studied the various calendars by spreading them out on the boardroom table in front of them. To further complicate matters, some important dates were color coded. “Pink is professional development,” Dr. Moran continued. “Blue is holidays, green is when classes start or resume, and yellow is the two 60 percent days.”

She offered the board the option of tabling the matter for further study, “unless the two Principals would like to make a comment.”

WVHS Principal Dr. Glenn Kitchen said that he would be glad to comment or answer any questions. He added that it might take a while, but it would be helpful to have a calendar by the end of the meeting.

“Which one do you want?” questioned all five board members, almost in unison.

Dr. Kitchen, DES Principal Chester Drewery, and Assistant Principal Grace Dickerson agreed to take the four calendar versions and work on them while the Board continued their meeting.

After 15 minutes of deliberations, the three administrators returned with their recommendations based on calendar D. “We think this will be simple and we think that it will work and we think that it will meet not only the needs of the school and the children, but also some things that are important to the cultural context of our community taking into consideration Watermelon Carnival and Christmas vacation and things like that,” Dr. Kitchen said.

He continued that the teachers would come to school on Aug. 1, 2, and 3 and the students would come in for their first day on Aug. 4. But, they would still be off on Friday, Aug. 5 for carnival. In December, school would recess Friday, Dec. 16, for the Christmas holidays. Also included would be enough days so that school could end “hopefully” before Memorial Day.

The board members unanimously approved the new calendar.

After the meeting, Dr. Kitchen explained that having an approved school calendar is vital in preparing for the next school year.  He said that everything from scheduling sports  and other events to reserving the Tad Smith Coliseum for graduation depends on having the dates locked in.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees will be June 20 at 6:30. A public hearing on the budget for 2011-2012 will be held on June 23 beginning at 6:30.

Board members agreed to move the regular July meeting to July 11 (that meeting has been moved to Thursday, July 7) at which time the budget will be approved first and then the regular meeting held.


 Superintendent’s Report

By Dr. Deborah Moran

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly congratulate our Valedictorian, Jake Moorehead, and Salutatorian, Anna True.  The ceremony was wonderful.  Jake and Anna made such memorable speeches.  I will also remember always the poem “Ode to Junior High” by Drew Pratt.  Congratulations to the families of our graduates and I wish all of them great success in their endeavors.

Summer School and our Summer Feeding Program started today at Davidson Elementary.

Our data will be verified by the end of this week and will be in my next superintendent report.

MCT2 and SATP Data will be available June 24th.  Our English II results are back and all but one student passed the test!  Congratulations!  I hope to be able to report the other results before I leave the district. 

As you can see if you visit our office or the high school, the renovations are going very well.  The fine people associated with Hill Construction and Marchbanks are really putting forth great effort to get this project completed.  We have had absolutely no problems that I am aware of.  I am very pleased with the job and the people doing the job.

Let me begin by saying the efforts put forth by our calendar committee are greatly appreciated.  However, after experiencing one full school year I met with both principals and with their input and your comments I have made the following recommendations to the calendar for next school year to maximize student learning time, give the faculty the holidays that are valued, and end the school year as early as possible.  This calendar was approved by our Board of Trustees. 

Our next scheduled Board Meeting is next Monday, June 20th.   We scheduled our Public Hearing for the 2012 Budget for June 23rd at 6:30.

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