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Schools await votes on snow days

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

Local school districts plan a wait-and-see approach with the state Legislature before approving possible changes to school calendars.

Officials discussed several scenarios during the McCracken and Paducah school board meetings last week, but both districts will not present or approve any changes until the General Assembly passes one of several snow day-related bills or the legislative session ends.

The House and the Senate have passed similar bills in previous weeks but were unable to reach a compromise Monday. Both chambers agreed to extend the school day to a maximum of seven hours but disagreed on when the school year should officially end. Both houses could appoint new committees to continue negotiations. If approved, the legislation would go to Gov. Steve Beshear for approval, according to the Associated Press.

Troy Brock, director of pupil personnel for Paducah schools, said officials plan to delay any decision until the Legislature makes a decision. The board would then approve any proposed changes at the April 21 board meeting. If nothing changes, the predicted final day for city students would be June 3 and for staff would be June 4. The district extended the school day by 15 minutes to make up for lost time beginning Feb. 24.

In McCracken County, the district also await receive guidance from the General Assembly. The predicted last day for students barring any changes would be June 2 and June 3 for staff, according to Director of Pupil Personnel Russ Tilford. He told the board that if the legislation passed, the district could change the last day by adding daily time to some of the elementary schools. If the Legislature acts, the board would most likely call a special meeting to approve the calendar.

Graves County schools will add instructional time for elementary schools starting Monday, April 7, to improve the district's options in finalizing the calendar, according to community relations director Paul Schaumburg.

He said Central Elementary School will begin class at 7:30 a.m. and will be dismissed at 3:08 p.m. All other elementary schools will begin class at 7:20 a.m. and will be dismissed at 2:58 p.m. Middle and high schools will operate on a regular class schedule, but buses will be delayed up to 20 minutes.

Graves County students have missed 18 days and have made up four of those days. The previously approved 2013-14 school year calls for additional make-up days in late May and early June. District officials await a decision in the Legislature before discussing a make-up schedule for students and staff members, according to Schaumburg.

Either of the proposed bills would give the school districts increased flexibility to waive up to 10 missed days because of the weather or to deviate from the 170 minimal day requirement in a school year. Forgoing the mandated number of days could allow districts to add instructional time to each day rather than adding days to the end of the year.

 

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

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