Schools get leeway in making up missed time

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 10, 2005

Most local schools already have drawn up plans to make up daysmissed when Hurricane Katrina ripped through the area more than amonth ago.

The state Board of Education met Wednesday and approved severalmeasures meant to bring public school districts back in line withstate and federal instructional requirements.

Because of financial hardship and other factors, manyMississippi districts have concluded it is not practical for themto complete a full 180-day school year. The state board willinstead allow districts to substitute 130 hours of instruction foreach unit earned by students.

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Any school district unable to meet the full 180 days must submita plan by Nov. 15 detailing how it will meet the lesserrequirements. All plans are subject to review and approval by thestate Education Department.

The state board will consider districts’ plans for making up formissed time as a factor in accreditation.

“We’ve already submitted ours,” Brookhaven School DistrictSuperintendent Lea Barrett said.

Barrett said that the district is requesting the state boardwaive the 180-day requirement, but Brookhaven schools still willmeet the required amount of instructional time without making anychanges to their regular routine.

“Each one of our schools spends considerably more than (therequired 330 minutes in class) each day,” she said. “Because wehave had so much upheaval, our preference is not to add to thecalendar and to return to some normalcy.”

The plan was approved by the School Board before being submittedto the Department of Education, Barrett said.

The Lawrence County School Board has not voted on a plan, butSuperintendent Russell Caudill said he is prepared to submit onewhen the board meets Oct. 18.

“What I intend to propose to the school board is to extend oursecond semester into the first week of January – to Jan. 6 – and wehave discontinued early release on Wednesdays,” he said.

Discontinuing early release on Wednesdays – time that was usedfor staff development – will ensure the requirements are met nextsemester, Caudill said. Because the current semester had alreadybegun, however, it would need to be extended to get in thenecessary time.

All holidays and breaks previously scheduled would still behonored, he said.

“I feel like the state Board of Education will find thisacceptable because we will more than make up for theirrequirements,” Caudill said.

Wesson Attendance Center Principal Billy Britt said the he hasnot been notified of the district’s plan, but he has also stoppedearly releases on Wednesday in preparation for making up missedtime.

While many area schools missed two weeks or more because ofhurricane damage, Wesson only missed six days, Britt said, makingit easier to make up lost time.

A Lincoln County Schools representative was not available todiscuss that district’s plans for the remainder of the schoolyear.