NEWBERRY — Newberry County’s school calendar will have one day added onto it — or three days removed from it — depending upon one’s perspective after a decision made at Monday night’s school board meeting.
The Newberry County School Board voted to excuse three days students missed due to inclement weather this winter.
One make-up day, however, will be added to the end of the school year, meaning students will be required to attend June 4. Teachers had an extra work day added to their calendar as June 5 became a teacher make-up work day.
Even though the year was extended by one make-up day, that change will not affect high school graduations that remain scheduled for June 2, June 3 and June 4.
Superintendent Bennie Bennett said making up more days after graduation, in his opinion, would not be as productive toward testing and instruction as waiving the days.
After some discussion by Board Member Hugh Gray about the worth of a school day to a student in instructional and social terms, and of the importance of students attending school for 180 days, the board unanimously voted to waive the three snow days.
While discussing the calendar, Bennett said he and other educators would like to begin the school year earlier so the fall semester could end before Christmas break and to have more instructional time before standardized tests are administered.
According to Bennett, the idea of changing the school start date is gaining traction because a study by the Olde English Consortium found the economic impact of a later start date was not what was expected when the start date was moved to the third Monday in August.
Jim Suber, assistant superintendent for operations and administration, gave an update on construction of the school district office building. Suber said the hope remains for move-in to be over spring break but that an alternate plan is being developed just in case.
Inclement weather has caused 40 to 45 days of delays in the project thus far.
Wet weather caused landscaping work to be delayed as substrate was installed only to have more mud and water run over it making it necessary to pull the substrate out and start again.
Suber said to this point 16 inches of stone were added in six inch lifts during that process. The project still needs four inches of stone with proper substrating before light duty asphalt can be put down.
Suber foresees at six to seven days of paving and landscaping work once the substrate issues are resolved.
Site work delays are holding up landscaping work. Furniture is being stored elsewhere until the final punch checks are done so the furniture is not damaged during construction. Sidewalks, windows, doors, casework, final painting and fire alarm/life safety items are all complete. Pre-final inspection was done March 24.
Suber said the final OSF inspection on the $4.1 million project will be March 26.
In other business, District Chief Financial Officer Susan Dowd said the district had an ending balance of $16.9 million and that local revenue looks good. Dowd said the budget looks good at this point but there are some expenditures budgeted to come from the fund balance so they would monitor those expenses.
The board will have its first budget work session April 14 at 6 p.m.
Technology/instruction funds had one larger payment from the 549 Fund to pay for invoices for furniture at Newberry Elementary School.
In other business:
• Board member Hugh Gray recommended board discussion in time in open session be added to board agendas. He said research he has done in organizational governance showed that kind of communication increases the effectiveness of boards such as the school board.
• Junior Scholars were recognized as were the Newberry High School AA state champions in wrestling and the AA state champion basketball team.
• Teacher recommendations passed unanimously for Russell Lee as a math instructor at Newberry High School and for Petra Ulch as School Nurse Coordinator at the District Office.
• The board unanimously voted to accept a low bid of $186,460 for audio/video equipment that will equip all three district high schools to hold graduation indoors. Board Chairman Jody Hamm said the equipment would bring the Newberry High School gym up to par and would allow Mid-Carolina High School to use the cafeteria to give presentations.
• Hamm recommended a board compensation issue be tabled until next month so the board could conduct more research. The recommendation passed.