From Feb. 7: Shelton to ask Fayette school board to use Presidents Day and March 21 as makeup days

jwarren@herald-leader.comFebruary 6, 2014 

  • Snow days

    Here's a sampling of 2013-14 weather days reported to state officials as of Tuesday:

    Source: The Kentucky Department of Education

     Anderson: 10

     Bath: 14

     Bourbon: 10

     Boyd: 14

     Breathitt: 16

     Clay: 15

     Elliott: 17

     Jessamine: 8

     Madison: 7

     Scott: 12

     Woodford: 6

Fayette School Superintendent Tom Shelton plans to ask the school board Monday night to use Presidents Day, Feb. 17, and March 21 as snow makeup days.

If the board approves the proposed change in the school calendar, the last day of classes in the Fayette Schools would be Thursday, June 5, school district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said.

The school board will hold its regular planning meeting Monday night. The board typically does not take action during that session. But Deffendall said Shelton plans to ask members to act on the calendar change.

Without board action, classes would end June 10, a Tuesday, Deffendall said Thursday afternoon.

That's assuming, of course, that the district does not lose any more instructional days to winter weather. Fayette Schools have missed nine days to snow and ice, including Thursday, when classes were canceled due to "road conditions," Deffendall said.

School districts statewide have lost many days to ice, snow and bitter cold since the first of the year. Since state law requires districts to make up days missed, the closings have left some district scrambling to make up 20 or more days of classes.

Officials with Martin County Schools, for example, have decided to cancel spring break this year and hold classes instead. They also have eliminated almost every non-instructional day from their calendar.

Martin schools were closed Thursday, bringing their snow day total to 18. In addition, the district had to cancel the first two weeks of classes last fall because of road construction near the county high school, Superintendent Steve Meadows said.

"We were two weeks behind before we even started school," he said.

Meadows said Thursday that he thinks school districts like his need some kind of relief from having to make up so many lost days.

He cited possibilities such as the Kentucky Department of Education easing its requirement for 177 instructional days in the school year.

However, state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has resisted doing that in the past. And education department spokeswoman Nancy Rodriguez said Thursday that no districts have asked the department for relief so far.

Department staffers are advising districts on school calender law and regulations, and consulting with districts as they figure out to make up days lost to inclement weather, she said.

"School boards are required to include makeup days in the original calendar and are expected to implement their plans to make up any instructional days missed so far," Rodriguez said.

As of now, however, the school calendar calls for Fayette schools to be closed on Presidents Day and on March 21. That date was set aside under state law for teachers to attend a regional Kentucky Education Association meeting. Regional KEA members recently voted to drop that requirement, Deffendall said.

However, board action to change the calendar would be required to hold classes on those days, she said.

Deffendall stressed that there has been no discussion of Fayette County eliminating spring break, which is scheduled for April 1-4, to make up snow days.

"We're not talking about taking spring break," Deffendall said.

Herald-Leader reporter Valarie Honeycutt Spears contributed to this story. Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @heraldleader.

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