Snow Days Could Help PE Schedule

Published 3:38 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2012

PRINCE EDWARD – Barring some missed school days due to snow or a General Assembly change that would make the decision to open prior to Labor Day opening a local school board decision, time may be running out on early August openings for Prince Edward.

School board members were presented with a proposed calendar for the 2012-13 school year at their February 8 meeting that, again, calls for an early August opening. While state law specifies schools open after Labor Day, individual schools significantly impacted by inclement weather can seek a waiver through the Department of Education. Prince Edward has routinely sought and received a waiver.

The proposed calendar, which must still be approved by the school board, keeps a 180-day calendar for students, ends the first semester before winter break, provides a two week break for students, factors eight snow/emergency days (including three prior to Christmas), keeps Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a school holiday, sets an opening date for students August 8 and a May 18 graduation.

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One proposal before the General Assembly would do away with the current law (and not require schools to get a waiver to open before Labor Day). However, it would prevent them from opening more than two weeks prior to the holiday.

The fate of that specific bill, as of the time of the meeting, was still to be determined, but the warm winter (Sunday's snow aside) is taking its toll on the number of weather-related missed days.

So far, there haven't been any for 2011-12 (though schools opened two hours late Tuesday).

“…Based on our calculations, if that Labor Day bill isn't successful, it looks like we have two more school years before our waiver runs out completely-unless next year is a heavy snow year,” commented Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith.

College Readiness

Rachel Overstreet presented background and overview of the College and Career Readiness initiative at the state level and Debbie Rush presented information on a planned capstone English class for twelfth graders that addresses reading, writing and communication.

There will be a new designation in students passing SOLs from pass advanced (where the cutoff is at a score of 500) to college ready. The capstone class would aim to better prepare those students passing their SOLs (achieving a score over 400), but who have not met the college ready level.

It was outlined that it will be a high interest program designed to give specific students a boost, enhance skills in reading, the writing process, creation of effective texts and effective communications (including listening, speaking and collaborating). The course would aid those who have successfully completed their English 11 course, and have achieved at least minimum proficiency on both their reading and writing end of course SOL tests.

It is not a remediation class, but would be for those scoring between 400-500. Ms. Rush offered that those scoring in the middle between the two scores would benefit from it the most.


School board members recognized winners in the spelling bee (for students in fourth through eighth grades). Seventh grader Abigail Deppen was the division-winner, with second place honors to sixth grader Laura Bisaillon. Three students, Abriel Johnson, Naomi Jones and Hannah Roldan-all fourth graders-tied for third place.

The board recognized Orland Vasquez Sanchez, who received a Master of Arts Degree from Greensboro College, and Angela Booker, who received a Masters Degree in Special Education from Liberty University.

School Board members recognized Angela Foster, Clerk of the school board, as part of the Virginia School Boards Association-designated Clerk Appreciation Week. Board members were also recognized as part of School Board Appreciation Month.

A group of middle school students that participated in a program “If I Had A Hammer” experimental math program with Hampden-Sydney College students gave a presentation to the school board.

It was also highlighted that the State Board of Education recognized administrators and teachers for their participation in a Response to Intervention pilot program. The program creates better and more adequate instruction in math and reading and provides a new and different way to identify struggling students early and provides instructional interventions.

In Other News…

*School board members approved a new policy outlining sponsorship for labor certifications/permanent residency applications for foreign teachers. It specifies, under specific conditions, that the school board may sponsor H1B visa labor certification/permanent residency for foreign national teachers. An applicant must be an employee of the school board on or before July 1, 2009 and continue to be employed by the school board throughout the application process. Dr. Smith noted that the policy is not binding on future hires.

The policy was approved, with Harriett Fentress opposing and Dr. Osa Sue Dowdy abstaining.

*The board was presented recommended changes in the middle school program of studies and essentially expressing support but tabled action pending more information. The middle school will add keyboarding (which will be required for fifth and eighth grade students). The high school is also slated to add a geometry academy, an English academy and an environmental science course in program of studies changes and took no action. The school board was presented the proposed program of study additions for both schools at their January meeting.

*The school board approved a policy revision that effectively updates the cost of photocopies in requests for information from five to ten cents per page.

*School board members agreed for school officials to seek bids for health insurance coverage, which would allow for a recommendation by the March board meeting.

*Human Resources Director Freda Reid offered a presentation on the new online application process. It will save in paperwork and postage. The estimated cost is $3,425 and includes the service and training fee; a second year optional renewal would be $2,030 (service fee).

*The school board was introduced to Cambridge consultant Harold Lawson, who presented the monthly progress report on the partnership between the high school and the firm.