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Concerns continue on school calendar proposal

Feb. 26, 2013 @ 06:45 AM

MILTON -- Question and concerns for Cabell County's new school calendar proposal continued Monday night at Milton Middle School, the fourth of five information meetings being held countywide.

Many attendees said they wanted to see more evidence that switching from a traditional school calendar with a long summer break to a balanced calendar with four, 45-day quarters and shorter summer break was more beneficial.

"I have not seen any positives yet," said Rebecca Powers, a mother and a special education aide at Davis Creek Elementary.

George Watson, a professor in the College of Education at Marshall University, agreed. He said even Assistant Superintendent Gerry Sawrey said in her presentation that there is plenty of research for and against a year-round calendar.

If the research isn't there, Watson said he can't support such a change to the community.

"You can't make changes unless there is major research that supports it," Watson said. "The research is a wash ... why are we even considering something with so many problems?"

Cabell County school officials have proposed a transition to the balanced calendar for the 2014-2015 school year. The school year would start sometime in mid to late July and go through early June of the following year. There would be three, multi-week breaks in the fall, winter and spring that would include down time for teachers and students and also a week-long intersession during each. The intersessions would take place both in the schools and in community centers, such as the Huntington Museum of Art, and provide remediation and enrichment opportunities.

Powers said her concern is with special education and the children she works with who rely on a routine to help them function. That would be taken away with the numerous breaks.

Other parents wondered how they would handle day care, saying the Milton area doesn't have enough options. One man, Jason Lucas, said he takes his infant son to day care in Hurricane, where his brother, who is in Pre-K this year, will join him this summer.

But not everyone was against it. There were several parents who came to express support, including Chris Chandler. The Ona resident is an engineer and said the balanced calendar is a step in the right direction to help boost student achievement.

"Our kids are week in math, science and engineering," he said, adding that it is worth trying if it has the potential to help students from all demographics.

In response to some people wondering how the calendar might affect football or marching band, Chandler said "football is secondary to education, and I played it (in high school)."

There is one more community meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at Beverly Hills Middle School on Saltwell Road in Huntington. The employee meeting is at 4 p.m., followed by the community meeting at 6 p.m.

Complete information on the balanced calendar can be found at www.cabellcountyschools.com.

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