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Balanced calendar put on hold

Board of Education
May. 08, 2013 @ 06:43 AM

HUNTINGTON -- When the West Virginia Legislature passed the massive education reform bill during the session, one of the measures was giving counties more flexibility in its development of calendars.

But, for now, that's not the case. Some of the language in the bill related to both calendars and hiring practices will go through stakeholder committees with the state Department of Education. And that means Cabell County's plans for a balanced school calendar are on the back burner until the language in the bill is translated into department policy.

"Please be advised that until you see the final rules that have been adopted by the State Board you should not move forward to act on any assumptions as to what those rules and processes will entail," stated a letter sent by state Superintendent James Phares to all county superintendents April 26.

Cabell County Superintendent William Smith said at Tuesday night's meeting that the legislation is so voluminous that there's even been pause on creating a traditional calendar because there is some legal interpretation coming on its effect on faculty senates and other days that students do not attend.

Cabell County had been considering a balanced calendar, which would have broken the school year into four quarters separated by as many as three weeks, with a shortened summer. Those breaks during the school year would have included intersessions -- optional enrichment and remediation activities for students to attend.

Gerry Sawrey, the assistant superintendent for school improvement, suggested the board of education table the plan at least until the guidance is received from the state level. That could be several months, so she also suggested pushing any calendar transition out another year to 2015-2016 at the earliest.

If the board later decides to pursue a balanced calendar, Sawrey said there needs to be clear communication with various community groups to provide a solid understanding of the why.

"Not just help them understand what a balanced calendar is, but the difference between a 20th-century and 21st-century education," she said.

No action was take Tuesday because the calendar was listed under discussion items. However, Smith said he'll provide a recommendation for the next agenda to table the balanced calendar initiative at least until the state board provides its guidance.

The next meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, at 2850 5th Ave., Huntington.

In other news:

Donna Myers, who teaches social studies, contemporary studies and civics at Huntington High School, was named the 2014 Cabell County Teacher of the Year. She has taught 27 of her 30 years in Cabell County and has been recognized in the past with Ashland, Inc.'s Golden Apple Achiever Award and the Bernard E. Chapman Newspapers in Education Award.

"Donna embodies the very concept of a teacher," wrote Steven Freeman, a teacher and faculty senate president at Huntington High. "When she talks about being a teacher, she often opens the conversations with 'I love my job.'"

There were several administrative personnel changes, following the retirements of Sawrey and Judy Forbush, the assistant superintendent of leadership development and administrative services. Jeff Smith, the director of assessment and curriculum, will assume Sawrey's position, while Todd Alexander, the administrative assistant for secondary schools, will take over for Forbush.

Tim Hardesty, who has been principal at Ona Elementary for eight years, will move to the central office as administrative assistant for elementary schools, following the retirement of Denny Caldwell.

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