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New proposed calendar starts Putnam schools earlier

By By Ryan Quinn
Staff Writer

The March 17 initial public hearing on the Putnam County Schools’ proposed 2014-15 calendar was sparsely attended, but officials said Monday they listened to one parent’s argument to start the school year earlier.

Randy Short argued that starting the school year Aug. 20, as originally proposed, would harm students taking Advanced Placement courses. He said his daughter, a Hurricane High School sophomore, is planning on taking several next school year.

At the second and final public hearing Monday, Superintendent Chuck Hatfield told the Putnam County Board of Education that staff would be recommending a new option that starts school Aug. 18 and converts Dec. 22 and 23 from winter break days to instructional days. This should add four additional teaching days before the AP exams. The first semester would end Jan. 13, and the second semester would end June 1.

The board will vote to approve a 2014-15 calendar at a 7 p.m. meeting on April 15. The calendar will then go to the state for review.

Short had argued that because AP testing is held nationally at a set time, starting school later means fewer instructional days for students before the difficult exams, which can earn students college credits. He said that because AP courses are 90 minutes for block schedule students, they would effectively lose out on the equivalent of two 45-minute instructional periods for every day they start later, and would lose out on more for each bad weather off-day scheduled to be made up after AP exams.

Short thanked the board Monday for what he called a good compromise. He said he’d still like to start school even earlier and have the first semester end before winter break to avoid first semester exams after that break. He’d also like Spring Break to be at the end of the third nine weeks period.

“I understand that you just can’t make it that whole way all at one time,” he said.

“He had some very valid points,” Cindy Daniel said of Short. Daniel, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, presented two current proposals to the board Monday.

She said the other option is a holdover from the first public hearing that sets the start date for students on Aug. 20 and the end date on June 4. In both options, potential makeup days are largely stacked at the end of the school year.

Daniel said starting in 2014-15, schools will be mandated to have all 180 instructional days. She said Putnam schools will miss nine days this school year because of both the water crisis and the abnormally bad winter.

Reach Ryan Quinn at or 304-348-1254.

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