TCS sets makeup days for teachers, students

Saturday school day not out of the question
Mar. 13, 2014 @ 10:18 AM

Summer vacation will be a little shorter and a Saturday school day is not out of the question for students and teachers in the Thomasville City Schools system thanks to Old Man Winter.

Gloria Smith, career and technical education director, on March 4 presented a revised calendar for the remainder of the school year to the Board of Education. The revised calendar accounted for five lost snow days between Jan 29 and Feb. 14. An ice storm on March 7 led to another missed day of school that may or may not have to be made up.

Under the new calendar, teachers will have required work days from June 11-13 to make up for snow days on Feb. 12-14. The last day of school for students will be pushed back from June 6 to June 9 to make up for missing Jan. 29 due to snow.

Graduation, however, still is scheduled to take place on June 7.

“We don’t have many days left on our calendar that we can use,” said TCS Superintendent Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin. “We don’t want to continue to push into summer. Will this ever end?”

North Carolina law requires students to receive 1,025 hours of instruction during the school year. Pitre-Martin said the March 7 cancellation will have to be made up if students are unable to meet the requirement. Two options on the table are having students attend school on a Saturday or extending school days in order to meet the 1,025 hour threshold.

“If those hours are not [met], we will consider an extended school day or Saturday school,” Pitre-Martin said. “That’s the direction we’re going in. I’m pretty such we’re going to have to do something. I think that for many of our families it would be an inconvenience to have Saturday school. On our calendar we put the extended school days first as an option and Saturday school second.”

Snow days for students on Feb. 12, 13, and 14 are being absorbed into the calendar and will not be made up. Students will make up Jan. 30 on March 31.  

June 11 and 12 originally were scheduled as an optional teacher workday and an annual leave day, respectively, for teachers, but now are required work days.

“We're happy that this will give us an opportunity to do some staff development that we might not otherwise have had the time to do,” Smith said. “Jan. 29 became an annual leave day in place of the June 12 annual leave day for teachers. We basically just swapped those two days.”

The optional work day and the annual leave day will be made up on June 17 and 18. The new calendar now has nine required and eight optional work days for teachers, compared to the original that had seven of each.

“That gives us three additional work days for teachers in June to replace the three student days that are not being made up by students,” said Smith. “Hopefully, we will have no more snow that we will have to make additional changes.”

TCS elected not to change the date of graduation or the last day of school for seniors, which remains June 6.

“We felt that is was not prudent to try and make that change because of all the arrangements that already have been made for graduation,” Smith said. “All the reservations and planning and so forth.”

Teachers are required by the state to work 215 days in order to fulfill their contracts. The new calendar enables them to do that.

“They're going to have to work into the summer to make sure they get those 215 days one way or the other,” said Crystal Hodges, TCS board chairman. ”They have to have those days. That is what they get paid for in their contracts so they have to fulfill those days to the state.”

Pitre-Martin said she plans to wait until the end of next week before making any final decisions on another calendar revision in the event another round of winter weather hits the Chair City.

“We need to get to a point where weather is consistent,” said Pitre-Martin. “It’s starting to feel like every time we change the calendar we have another bad spell.”

Extended school days would depend on the number of time needed to meet the state requirement. Pitre-Martin prefers any extension to not exceed an hour per day. 

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.