School Board decides to hold classes on Good Friday to make up final snow day

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Barring another blast of winter, students in the Switzerland County School system now know when they will – and won’t – be going to school.

The school system had missed a day of school back in November, but made that day up in January when students attended classes on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, which had been previously designated as a ‘Possible Make Up Day’ by the school board when the school calendar was approved prior to the beginning of the school year.

The heavy snow fall that hit the county over the past couple of weeks led to more than a week out of classes, and caused the school corporation to do some rescheduling.

This week was to be the first of a two-week Spring Break, but going to school this week and cutting Spring Break to just one week. After missing two days two weeks ago to snow, that still left one day to make up.

On the school calendar, schools are to be closed on Friday, April 3rd in observance of Good Friday. The original calendar was to have the last student day on Friday, May 29th; with the final teacher record day being Monday, June 1st.

Graduation is set for Sunday, June 7th.

Needing to make up the one day, school officials were faced with a choice: go to school on Good Friday and get out for the summer on schedule; or keep Good Friday as a day off and instead send students to school an extra day at the end of the year.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Switzerland County School Board, Superintendent Mike Jones told the board members that he had been considering when to make up the day, but that it needed to be a board action if it decided to go on Good Friday because it would be a change to the official school calendar.

Greg Curlin, President of the Classroom Teachers Association, told the school board that he had polled teachers in all four schools, and that over 70-percent of the staff preferred to go to school on Good Friday and keep the end of the school year as it is.

He also pointed out that going on Good Friday also gives the staff an extra day of classroom instruction before the next wave of state testing begins.

After more discussion, the school board voted to adjust the school calendar, and schools will now be in session on Friday, April 3rd – Good Friday – and the last day of classes for students will still be on Friday, May 29th.

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In other business discussed at Monday night’s School Board meeting:

– The board’s Facilities and Grounds committee continues to discuss the possibility of constructing a lockerroom/restroom/concession stand facility near the football field behind the high school.

At Monday’s meeting, committee member Nancy Peters announced that there will be another public meeting to continue discussion; and that will be held on Tuesday, April 14th. The meeting will be held at the administration building, and will begin at 6 p.m.

– The board discussed a proposal that will impact students using electronic devices in the schools.

The technology committee told the board that it is working on a proposal that would have each student pay a $25 per year technology fee that would go to help with upkeep and maintenance of the device; and at the end of a four-year cycle, the student would get to keep and own the device.

One device would become owned by the student at the end of the eighth grade; and another when they graduate.

At Monday’s meeting, the board heard a first reading on the policy; and will further consider it and possibly adopt it at the board’s April meeting.

– High School Principal Gregg Goewert discussed a policy on student’s retaking classes with the board.

Some students are retaking classes that they took earlier in their high school careers either in school or online, and then using the better grade to raise their grade point average and class rank.

Principal Goewert said that some students take freshman algebra as eighth graders while still in the middle school; and those students sometimes want to retake the class in order to get a higher grade.

Other students are simply retaking classes, in some instances, several classes at a time, in order to raise their GPA and attain a higher class rank in hopes of possibly getting more scholarship money. He also said that a student cannot earn an Academic Honors Diploma if they have a grade of ‘D+’ or lower on their transcript, so some students are trying to raise those grades in order to achieve the Academic Honors Diploma.

The Principal’s proposal is that a student may retake freshman algebra if they earned a grade of ‘C’ or lower the first time they took it; and that high school students may retake a class that they took in high school if they received a grade of ‘D+’ or lower. He also said that there would be a cap of no more than two classes being retaken.

- The school board accepted a donation of funds, services and equipment that will allow the construction of a storage/concession building near the practice fields that are also used for Little League football games.

High School football coach Ryan Jesop said that parents with children in the Little League program are donating funds; and Rod Dickerson is donating some materials and labor to allow the building to be built at a greatly reduced cost, and there is no cost to the school corporation.

– Curriculum Director Rhonda Pennington updated the school board on a wide range of grants that she is working on to help fund various programs and classes available to students.

– The board approved extra curricular fundraisers; and approved the handbooks for both elementary schools.

- Jefferson-Craig Elementary School Title I teacher Sara Pavey’s retirement was approved.

- The next meeting of the school board will be on Monday, April 20th. The meeting will be held at the administration office, and will begin at 5 p.m.