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Cabell BOE OKs 2014-15 calendar

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LACIE PIERSON

HUNTINGTON -- The Cabell County Board of Education approved the proposed 2014-15 school calendar during its regular meeting Tuesday evening.

The calendar was approved by the board by a vote of 5-0 without the fanfare that accompanied public hearings about the calendar in recent weeks.

The calendar next will be submitted to the West Virginia Department of Education for final approval.

The calendar has a start date for students of Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, with the end date planned for Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

There was no discussion among board members about the calendar after Board President Suzanne Oxley provided a summary of the calendar creation and hearing process before making the final vote.

No members of the public at the meeting signed up to speak about the calendar. Nine people commented on the calendar during the two public hearings.

The calendar previously received mixed reactions from parents, some of who have said the August 6 start date cuts into summer family activities and could negatively impact the local economy.

The proposed calendar was one of three calendars created by a committee consisting of teachers, administrators, parents, students, board members and central office employees, and those calendars were put to a vote before county school employees. The calendar that eventually was presented to, and passed by, the board received 624 votes out of the 1,192 employees who voted on the three options.

Prior to the public hearings, the calendar was made available on a blog hosted by the school system, where parents could ask questions to school officials about the calendar.

The blog received more than 1,000 hits while it was online, said Jeff Smith, assistant superintendent of school improvement.

"It was an opportunity to make sure we got it out to the public," Smith said.

"To utilize the blog and the open hearings, it brought out some more information to people to understand there is logic behind what we're proposing. We're not just doing it for employees. The students are the ones we have in mind. There were some radical changes to the calendar, and we needed to get that out."

Smith said it was important for school officials to be sure that all involved parties understood the structure of the calendar and how the calendar could change if school officials have to utilize makeup days.

Six Outside School Environment, or OSE, days, are scheduled in April and May, and school officials will start with those days when scheduling makeup instructional days.

The seventh makeup day would come on a teacher preparation day scheduled for May 29. To make up for more than eight emergency closures, school officials have scheduled into the calendar 10 days in June that could be used as makeup days. They are being referred to as Extended School Days.

In other business, the board received a presentation about the Cabell County Schools 2014 Information Campaign from Jedd Flowers, director of communications for the system.

He presented three commercials featuring students, teachers and Superintendent Bill Smith, and he also showed the board previews of the revamping of the system's website and a draft version of a new logo.