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State gives tentative OK to Fayette school calendar

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By Brandi Underwood, Register-Herald Reporter   

The Fayette County Board of Education submitted its 2014-2015 school calendar to the West Virginia Board of Education this week, and while preliminary approval has been granted, the calendar is still awaiting a final vote from the state board.

A total of 701 Fayette County school personnel submitted their votes for either “Calendar A” or “Calendar B” during March 11-21. Final tallies revealed “Calendar A” to have squeaked ahead with 51 percent, or 359 votes, while “Calendar B” garnered 49 percent, or 342 votes.

“It was a horse-race until the end,” said David Seay, child nutrition director for Fayette County Schools, adding that several interesting dynamics played into the vote.

“The first calendar, or Calendar A, was devised by a committee of teachers, central office members, principals and service personnel,” said Seay. “The second calendar was based on public feedback gathered at hearings.”

The winning calendar, Calendar A, entails that teachers will report Aug. 8 and finish on June 9, while students will begin on Aug. 13 and recess on June 8.

The calendar includes a five-day Thanksgiving break, a five-day spring break and 10 days built in for snow days.

To meet new state guidelines that mandate 180 instructional days for students, the calendar will use a combination of six outside school environment days, one continuing professional development day, one preparation day and two out-of-calendar days to compensate for the first 10 days that school is canceled due to weather.

In the event that more than 10 days are missed, Seay said that days will be added to the end of the school year — up to June 30 — in order to have 180 days of instruction.

“We wanted a calendar that met the needs of students since it is an instructional tool, but we also wanted to accommodate the needs of personnel in the sense of their vacations, hunting trips, etc.,” said Seay.

The chosen calendar is designed for the first semester to conclude before Christmas break, which Seay said is very beneficial to aid curriculum flow.

“We want the public to understand that this calendar that we have for next year is a plan, but we may need to make adjustments to accommodate the 180 days of instructional time,” said Seay. “Next year will be a trial year, but we certainly hope that this calendar works.”