PHILIPPI - Barbour County school administrators wanted to gauge public opinion regarding the 2014-2015 fiscal year school calendar, and the survey results on the issue are finally in, officials said Monday.
The public has certainly taken an interest, officials said at Monday night's Board of Education meeting. Since the first school calendar public hearing on Feb. 10, Barbour County Educational Association President Brian Moats has reviewed the results of an online survey with 1,530 participants, including students, faculty, parents and others.
Moats said more than 93 percent of the surveyors claimed to be students, parents or community members. The other 7 percent of the total participants were employees. Aside from the survey, Moats said he received 32 emails regarding the calendar.
Moats said most of those surveyed wanted to maintain an entire week off from school for the Thanksgiving holiday, while 11 percent of participants wanted to reduce Thanksgiving break to only a Thursday and Friday.
He said participants also chose the longest possible Christmas and spring break options provided on the survey.
For Christmas break, that option was Dec. 23, 2014, to Jan. 2, 2015. The longest spring break option was from Apr. 3-10, 2015.
"The results of the survey overwhelmingly supported starting (school) the second week of August," Moats said. "That was among all groups except for students. Students wanted to start the first week of September."
Moats said he received input from students outlining explanations for why they wanted school to begin in September. He said those students were associated with 4-H or Future Farmers of America.
"Such a late start would prevent them from missing time (from school) to be involved with their show animals at the Barbour County Fair," Moats said.
The topic of educational leave was brought up by an audience member who asked if students could be compensated for their missed time for such events.
John Findley of Philippi, a parent in the audience, suggested that the BOE allow time for students to make up their days missed. He said that some school systems will have a special Saturday for students who have educational leave to make up their missed time.
BOE President Bob Wilkins said the state is requiring 180 days of instructional time during the 2014-2015 school year. After Wilkins said that Saturday school cannot count as mandated instructional time, Superintendent Joe Super addressed Findley's suggestion.
"One of the things we could do, sir... we could post stuff on the Internet, or they (students) could have packets that they could complete the work to make it up that way," Super said. "One of the things that we have to be careful of, we have to offer 180 days of instruction... How do we compensate the teacher? Because that will not be in the funding for that 181st, 182nd, 185th day."
Super said the school system has gotten a head start regarding the proposed school calendar because the final decision is not required until April 14. He said the school board will accept public commentary up through the date of the calendar's approval.
The Barbour, Upshur and Lewis county school boards are coordinating schedules that will work for all three counties because of their joint participation with the Fred Eberle Technical School in Buckhannon.
Comments about the calendar may be submitted through email to Assistant Superintendent Jeff Kittle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Melissa Toothman by email at email@example.com.