BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Schools are on track to have a full Spring Break for the first time in several years.
Spring Break has been used as make-up days in past years, but so far students have missed just two days of school due to inclement weather.
“I think people are going to be very excited because we have had a mild winter,” superintendent Roy Wager told board of education members Tuesday.
Under the calendar guidelines, the school system must go through its six Out of School Calendar days that are built into the calendar first.
That means that March 10 and March 17 are now full instructional days. March 15 will remain an early dismissal for Professional Learning Community days, which allow faculty at the schools to collaborate on instruction.
“One thing that has changed in the calendar year is it said we had to use the first available day,” Wager said. “That has changed to offer some flexibility.”
Wager said the four days before Easter are OS days and have been used as make-up days, but the calendar has OS days built in at the end as well.
So, if another snow day was missed, the counties would most likely look at putting that at the end of the year instead using a day of Spring Break.
The last day for students currently is May 26.
“Each county board must develop a policy that requires additional minutes of instruction be added to the school day,” Wager said. “Those are our accrued minutes that we have for every school, and that is so we can recover lost time.
“All of our schools have more than the required minutes in the instructional day, so we save those minutes for early dismissals for our [Professional Learning Community] or if we have a late start or early dismissal for snow or inclement weather.”
The school system is required to have two public hearings to allow for public comment before the board votes on a calendar for the next school year. As has been the custom the last two years, Wager used the first public hearing Tuesday to talk generally about the calendar. A proposed calendar will be presented during the second public hearing Tuesday, March 28 at 6 p.m. at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.
Wager said that the calendar Upshur, Lewis, Barbour and Gilmer counties are looking at will be very similar to this year’s calendar. This year, school started on Aug. 15 and is scheduled to end May 26 if inclement weather does not force too many snow days.
“We all want to have the same calendar and I think over the last couple years it has worked very well,” he said. “I know Fred Eberle is happy that we don’t have three separate calendars because that affects their personnel.”
Upshur, Lewis and Barbour counties share Fred W. Eberle Technical Center, and Lewis and Gilmer counties share an elementary school.
A few bills could affect the school calendar if they were to pass the state legislature and be signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice.
One bill that was presented has said that students cannot start before Aug. 10 and cannot go past June 10.
Another proposes using accrued time to make up days and still another bill proposes using instructional minutes versus the 180-day requirement.
If the instructional minutes bill were to pass, Upshur County Schools could get out even earlier, according to school officials.
Curriculum director Tim Derico noted that Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School is the least accruing school at 29 extra minutes a day, and that adds up to about 2 ½ hours a week.
So far this year, Upshur County Schools has accrued about 1,400 extra minutes.