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City schools add class time in response to snow days

BY KATHLEEN FOXkfox@paducahsun.com

The school day in Paducah city schools will get a little longer.

Because of a higher than normal number of snow days from freezing temperatures, snow and ice, the Board of Education amended the school calendar Monday night to add 15 minutes to each day. Beginning next Monday, the school day will be extended 15 minutes to make up for time lost to the weather,  according to director of pupil personnel Troy Brock.

He said the changes will ensure the district meets the 1,062 instructional hour and 170-day state requirements. City students have missed nine days because of the weather; four are banked from previous scheduling and instructional minutes, and one was made up on Presidents Day. Three of the additional four days were added to the end of the year and the extended time will make up for two additional days. One of those days will serve as a flexible date in case of a future cancellation, which could be readjusted by the board following the end of winter.

The modification will shift the end times for Clark, McNabb and Morgan elementary schools from 2:55 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. and delay the dismissal time for Paducah Middle School, Paducah Tilghman High School and Choices Educational Center from 2:20 p.m. to 2:35 p.m. In the elementary schools, the extra time can be divided up according to needs at each school. In the middle and high schools, which are on a bell schedule, two minutes will be added to six periods and three minutes will be added to one period, according to Brock.

He said the alteration will move the bus schedule back but school officials don't expect transportation issues because each school will undergo the same change. The main effect will be felt by some students involved in extracurricular activities and sports, who will have less time for school work, meetings and games.

"For middle and high school athletes, they will have a shorter amount of time between the end of school, doing their homework and then preparing to play," he said. "But it should be a minor impact considering the circumstances."

School principals, representatives from the Paducah Education Association and Superintendent Randy Greene met to consider the possibilities in regard to the school calendar. Officials also weighed adding time to the beginning of the day but concerns were raised of increased student tardiness. If the system didn't add additional time, students would be in class until at least June 2, according to Brock.

"We felt that this was the best option in that it accommodated the AP (Advanced Placement) test and track schedules," he said. "This number of snow days is rare, but we have been lucky the last few years."

Students will be out of school March 31-April 4 for spring break, on May 20 for the primary election and on May 26 for Memorial Day. Students cannot attend during election days, but May 20 will serve as a planning day for staff members.

The amendment also adds May 27-29 as instructional days and May 30 as the closing day for teachers. The last day of school is tentatively set for May 29, and graduation will be May 31.

Meanwhile, Russ Tilford, McCracken County director of pupil personnel, spoke during a county board meeting Thursday about the options for changes to that district's calendar.

McCracken County students have missed 10 days but only needed to make up four instructional days, because their days' instructional time already exceeds the state requirement. One of those four days was made up on Presidents Day.

The other planned days include a built-in flexible day on March 14 and additions to the end of the year May 22 23. The board has not yet voted on those changes because of concern about additional wintry weather, Tilford said.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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