By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – Students in the local school district may be off the hook for some of the missed “snow days” if a plan submitted to the State Department of Education is approved.
But, there is no guarantee that the plan will be accepted. And that could mean students will be in class both Good Friday and Good Monday as well as three more make-up days before the school year ends.
Superintendent Kim Chrestman told school board trustees at their March meeting Monday night, that he had become aware of two laws on the books that are very similar and give the superintendent the authority to decide if the days are made up after a declaration of emergency. But, he must have been given that power previously by the board.
“If y’all have given me the authority to close school and it is in our policy, then the school board and I can decide how many days,” Chrestman said. “We are not required to make up any days, but if we want to make up days, we can.”
The superintendent said that he was going to give the board three options and after one was accepted, he would forward it to Jackson on Tuesday along with documentation of his authority. “They will either say, ‘No, you don’t,’ or ‘Yes, you do.'”
Chrestman pointed out that the board had given him the authority, but if they hadn’t done so previously, they couldn’t do it at the meeting and the power be retroactive.
He then outlined the three options, which are: (1) make up all five days; (2) make up two of the days by holding classes on April 3 and April 6; or (3) make up only one of the day by attending classes on Monday, April 6.
Trustee Pierce Epes asked what was the point of making up the days at the end of the year. “How’s that going to help you with testing?” he asked.
“It’s not going to help you a bit,” Chrestman said. “All you are doing is putting in ‘butt time’ and attendance will be down.”
“We don’t stand to gain anything from it,” commented Trustee Cayce Washington. “If it’s not going to hurt us with the state, I’m for option three.”
Epes asked the two principals, Dr. Glenn Kitchens and Brad Parker, for their recommendation. Kitchens said that he had been hearing that many in the community wanted to save Good Friday as a holiday and added that many families already had plans, which may include Monday.
He continued that attendance would probably be adequate on Monday if the community understood that they would have Good Friday. But, he said there would probably be some absent because of previously made plans. “But, if you are in town, please have your children come to school.”
As the discussion ended, Trustee Lamar Burgess motioned to accept the third option, which would mean only one make up day on April 6. The four members present voted unanimously for the motion.
Later on, Kitchens asked for clarity on the make-up days. He noted that the board had approved Superin-tendent Chrestman’s plan, but that it would have to be sent to the Mississippi Department of Education in Jackson for approval.
“If you haven’t heard back by next Friday,” he said, referring to Friday, April 3, “We are coming to school, right?”
“I will know by then,” Chrestman said, “Or somebody is going to have to tell me something. I’ll be calling and emailing and I may even go down there.”
Chrestman emphasized that the plan has not been approved until “the state tells me that is appropriate.”
“My goal is to know for sure by the end of the week,” he added. “It’s not done until they tell me.”
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