The Kanawha County Board of Education chose a calendar Thursday for next school year that will have students start back on Aug. 9.
The vote was 3-1, with board member Jim Crawford the no vote and fellow member Tracy White absent.
The approval came after board member Ric Cavender initially moved to approve a calendar that would have had students start Aug. 16.
But only Crawford joined him for that, and board members Becky Jordon and Ryan White voted against them, so Cavender’s motion died in a 2-2 tie.
Ryan White then moved to approve the Aug. 9 start date map, and Jordon and Cavender joined him to pass that version.
Both calendar options ended the first semester before Christmas, but the Aug. 9 start version provided a full two weeks off around the holiday, while the Aug. 16 version provided less.
Cavender said he initially supported the Aug. 16 start date because “so many people are dealing with such hardships right now. If they can finish the semester at Christmas, let’s just give ’em — give ’em an extra week [of summer]. I mean they’re still going to get the same amount of education and instruction.”
But he said he changed course because, “I just don’t want to belabor it. Parents have to start planning their year, we’re already behind on that.”
Also Thursday, the board voted to pay Alum Creek-based Discount Communications & Electronics $154,000 to provide an emergency radio network for schools.
The only other bidder, according to a school system-provided bid summary document, was Winfield-based Electronic Services. It said it could provide the network for $206,000.
Keith Vititoe, the school system’s security executive director, said this will put a safety radio, with a quality equal to what one would find in a police station, in every Kanawha public school. He said the money is coming out of the excess levy funds, and the radios should last a decade or more.
“At any given moment [when] I’m on duty, I can talk to every school in this county once this project is done,” Vititoe said.
He said these would help in situations such as lockdowns and shelters in place. He suggested they could have helped notify schools if the recent chemical plant explosion in Belle had happened during the day, instead of late at night.
“I could’ve notified them in seconds, versus minutes,” he said.
The board also voted to pay Charlotte, North Carolina-based Mecklenburg Roofing $158,000 to replace the DuPont Middle School auditorium’s roof. School system Facilities Planning Executive Director Chuck Smith said the company has a local office in Charleston.
That company was the lowest of five bidders.
The next lowest was Orlando, Florida-based Shield Roofing and Construction, which said it could do the work for $162,000.The highest bidder was Huntington-based Boggs Roofing, which bid $196,000.
Board members also transferred Barbara Ames, a George Washington High School business and work-skills teacher, into the vacant curriculum assistant principal position at South Charleston High.
Kim Williams recently left that position to become South Charleston’s principal, after winning a lawsuit against the school system. In 2018, Kanawha had passed her over for the position for a candidate with significantly less experience.