The Letcher County Board of Education has cancelled spring vacation for students and teachers for the second year in a row.
Citing 20 days of classes already missed because of bad weather and additional cancellations a near certainty, the board ordered at its February meeting this week that spring break scheduled for the week of March 30-April 3 be cancelled.
“What we’re hoping is if we take spring break we won’t go into June that far,” Superintendent Tony Sergent told the board Monday night, adding that several teachers take summer classes that begin early in June.
As of Tuesday, the last day of school was projected to be May 28 for students. However, the board realizes that more school days will have to be missed because of bad weather.
“We’ve not seen all of it yet,” said Board Chairman Will Smith. “We’ve got March to go.”
Spring break had to be cancelled last year because the district missed 28 days of school.
“ Everyone knows up front that these five days could be looked at,” said Kenneth Cornett, the district’s director of pupil personnel.
Smith encourages families who have trips planned March 30 to April 3 to apply for “educational enhancement” days. Cornett added that students approved for educational enhancement days won’t be counted absent.
“It’s pretty common and well known that each child can have up to 10 days that a family can choose to fill out paperwork and get approved for the child to be doing something of educational nature,” said Cornett. “ If they have a vacation planned they can still utilize those days and actually be counted in session. Just document on the form what significant activities will be done with the child that will be of educational value.”
Schools are required to be in session 1,062 instructional hours each school year.
In addition to dropping spring break, the district has “banked” five days by having extra time added to the regular school day.
As of February 25, the district has 11 days to make up for time missed in the classroom. Letcher Elementary and Letcher Middle schools have two extra days to make up because of days missed because of water supply issues.
“There’ll be some additional options, particularly with so many districts being out of session,” said Cornett. “I think there will be some guidance from the state level.”
Cornett said the board could still consider extending the length of the school day. Board Member Mendy Boggs said that adding 15 minutes to instructional days doesn’t help students. Adding full days would be much more beneficial for students, she said.
“That’s just 15 more minutes to get your backpack ready,” said Boggs.
The window for staterequired testing is set for the last 14 days of the school year. If more days are missed and the school calendar extends into June, Boggs is concerned that families may already have made vacation plans for early June.