Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 30, 2014

Area schools look to make up lost time

PRINCETON — Area school systems are continuing to adjust their calendars as snow and bitter temperatures whittle away at classroom time.

Mercer County schools had lost 11 days to inclement winter weather as of Wednesday, said public information specialist Kellan Sarles. The number of days built into the school calendar as make-up days has been exceeded.

“We had eight days built into the schedule, so now we’re three days over,” Sarles said.

To help make up for lost instructional days, the Mercer County Board of Education will turn three instructional support, or IS, days to regular school days, she said. Students will report to school on Feb. 17, April 21, and June 2.

“On Feb. 17, there will be a two-hours late schedule so faculty senates can meet,” Sarles said. “On April 21 and June 2, we will do the opposite and have a two-hour early dismissal for faculty senate.”

If more school days are lost due to bad winter weather, West Virginia school systems will be unable to make up for the time.

“They would be lost days for students,” Sarles said. “We have a 200-day pay period, and we cannot go beyond that unless the county would pick up the tab, and we can’t afford to do that. We would be paying the salaries each day, and we have no state funding.”

Mercer County’s last school day for students is June 2, and teachers would finish the school year on June 3, Sarles said.

“We started early this year on Aug. 15,” she added. “But we’re certainly hoping February is a warm, dry month.”

School was also closed Wednesday in McDowell County. Superintendent Nelson Spencer was unavailable for comment. In Virginia, schools were also closed in Tazewell County and Buchanan County.

Buchanan County Schools will be closed today, too, said Transportation Supervisor Phillip Keene. Today is the fourteenth day without classes. To help make up the lost classroom time, the school system could bank time by adding 30 minutes to a school day, twice a month. State code also allows school systems to make up the first five lost days at the end of the year, and then another extra day for every two days lost. The board of education would have to approve this idea, Keene said.

Representatives of Tazewell County Schools were not available Wednesday.

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