Whitesburg KY

Letcher students lose spring break

The Letcher County Board of Education voted this week to approve holding classes during the week originally designated for spring break.

“We tried to tell everyone to get prepared,” said Board Member Dr. Sam Quillen, Jr. “Chances are spring break will be gone. It should not be a surprise to anyone. Do not make long-term plans because of this weather pattern.”

The board voted at its December meeting to hold classes April 5-7, the first three days of spring break. Then during a special meeting on March 9, the board voted to remain in session on April 8–9, the final two days of spring break.

“I think we need to do it in terms of teaching and if we miss any more days you are moving up in the week of June 14,” said Anna Craft, superintendent of the Letcher County Public School System.

Craft said the district has missed 27 days total this school year — two days because of flu and 25 days because of inclement weather. Some individual schools in the district missed a few more days because of the H1N1 flu.

The last day of school for students is set for June 11, with the last day for teachers June 14. June 30 is the latest a school year can be extended because that day designates the end of the fiscal year.

Craft says it is important for students to get as much instructional time in as possible before the statetesting window begins April 19.

“Those are two days that we can get in before testing,” said Craft. “We are trying to get as many days in the calendar that we can put back in. For the district as a whole it is the best decision.

Craft said some school districts have only missed a few days of school because of inclement weather, putting the Letcher district at a disadvantage.

“That’s just not fair,” said Craft. “I’m afraid it is going to hamper with the progress we have.”

Craft said the Kentucky Board of Education could decide to have three options for testing weeks and, if approved, Craft said the district would choose to have students tested during the latest option in May.

Teresa Pigman and Nancy Ratliff, representatives of the local chapter of Kentucky Education Support Professional Association (KESPA), agreed with the board that classes should be held during the week of spring break.

Regina Donour, a science teacher at Letcher County Central High School, told the board that she thought attendance would be horrible April 8–9.

“Kids have already told me they would be out those days,” said Donour, who had planned to attend an outof town conference during those two days.

Craft said some high school student might miss those days but that she didn’t think many elementary students would miss school. She also said she didn’t think many teachers would be absent on those days.

“I hate that we have to do I but I think that it is necessary,” said Craft.

“It seems like we have no choice,” said Board Chairman Will Smith.

Craft said she worries that the district could miss more school days.

“We could have more spats with snow or spring floods,” said Craft.

The board also voted to have school in session on May 31, Memorial Day.

Board Member Terry Cornett suggested the district to not take an entire week off of school for fall break during the next school year. Craft said she is going to suggest to the calendar committee to just designate a Thursday and Friday for a fall break.

“We need to stay in school every day in the fall.”

The board also ratified a memorandum of agreement with the office of the Governor and the Department of Local Government for a multi-county Local Government Economic Development Fund (LGEDF) grant awarded by the Department for Local Government to the Letcher County school district for the Letcher Area Career and Technical School project for $1,000,000 in coal severance tax funds.

The board approved academic teams participating in state level competition in Louisville March 13–15. An LCCHS class will travel to Abingdon, Va., to Barter Theatre on March 17.

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