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New school calendar awaits final OK by state

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By The Staff

    SHEPHERDSVILLE - Nothing is in writing as the state General Assembly continues its work in Frankfort but students in Bullitt County may be heading back to class on Aug. 11 for the new school year.

    The Bullitt County Public School Board approved the 2010-11 calendar, pending final action by the legislature.

    At this time, one proposal has been to remove two instructional days that were added several years ago. This would be a cost-saving measure for the money-strapped state.

    If the calendar committee endorsed proposal stands firm, students would end their instruction on May 24.

    Due to the snow days this year, classes for the current school year are slated to end on May 28.

    Some of the highlights of the proposed 2010-11 calendar include fall break of Oct. 21-25 for students (Oct. 21 would be professional development for teachers); Thanksgiving break of Nov. 24-26; Christmas break of Dec. 20-Jan. 2; and spring break of April 4-8.

    Included in the calendar are the eight two-hour early release days.

    Pat Smith-Darnell, director of pupil personnel and leader of the calendar committee, said that in order to conclude the first semester prior to Christmas, classes needed to begin by Aug. 11.

    In regards to a question about using holidays such as Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday and President’s Day as make-up days for snow, Smith-Darnell said President’s Day would be permitted but the other is a state-mandated holiday.

    She said days like Election Day cannot be used for instruction and Oaks Day has traditionally been a day off. This is due to the problems finding enough substitute teachers since many schools use the event as a fund-raiser at Churchill Downs.

    Pleasant Grove principal Joe Reister echoed sentiments he had already sent to the calendar committee.

    He felt a full week was needed for fall break to help refresh both the students and the teachers.

    Since snow days are traditionally tacked onto the end of the school year, Reister proposed having a week set aside in March as time to make up snow days. If they weren’t needed, classes would be held as normal.

    After testing is done in the spring, the extra days of instruction would not make as much difference.

    He would also like to start earlier than Aug. 11 and maybe use a few days of the first week of Christmas break.

    Smith-Darnell said the committee did consider Reister’s comments, as well as those who took the on-line calendar survey.

    Of those who responded, 40 percent said they would like to consider an alternative calendar.

    Board member Tim Wiseheart, who was a member of the committee, said he really hadn’t looked at the alternative schedules. It may be a bit premature but it could be considered for the future.

    He felt the biggest task would be educating the public and it would take over a year to ever implement.

    Superintendent Keith Davis said the alternative calendar would address some of the concerns voiced by Reister.

    Wiseheart and board chairman Gary Wooldridge said their goals was to make sure the calendar wasn’t rushed through and approved without people seeing it before the vote.

    Both said they were satisfied with the process and the outcome.

    The board unanimously approved the presented calendar; however, it would not become official until the general assembly concludes and the state Department of Education approves the proposal.