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PE Talks School Makeup Work

PRINCE EDWARD – County school board members met last week to close the books on the fiscal year, but they also changing grade equality for student work for excused and unexcused absences.

“…When they're just not coming to school because they can not come to school and still make up all their work and get full credit, that's hurting the other students,” commented school board member Linda Leatherwood at the board's June 25 meeting.

The retired teacher suggested a ceiling for the makeup grade.

“Because you need to make up the work for the end of the year just for your knowledge but the fact that you can miss a test and if you don't want to go to school that day and come in and make it up later and get a hundred or get an A on it, is not fair to the other students,” Ms. Leatherwood said.

There's a difference, she offered, between making up excused work and unexcused work. The teachers, she would later add, are demanding that they do something.

“And we would listen to that,” Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith commented. “They're the ones on the front line dealing with this day-in and day-out.”

School Board Vice Chairwoman Susan Lawman also added, “Now, if we've included this in the Code of Conduct and we just need to make sure it's enforced. That's the key issue.”

The issue of grades and makeup work was raised by a parent at the school board's May meeting.

When a student is absent, the parent highlighted, they are allowed to makeup work (including for suspension and expulsion).

Dr. Smith noted at the school board's June 6 meeting that one of the things that they “found in reviewing the last two years Code of Conduct documents in comparison was that the entire set of attendance regulations were deleted from the 11-12 Code of Conduct. They are now being reinstated into the 12-13 Code of Conduct.”

School board members were presented a copy of high school attendance regulations that had been deleted from last year's Code of Conduct at their meeting last week (and are now included). That regulation for the high school dealt with such issues as excused and unexcused absences/tardies, loss of credit, makeup work, and appeals/due process. (While there is a clear distinction between excused and unexcused absences in school regulations, there is no distinction for makeup work.)

An attendance policy (that applies division-wide) that was included last year was revised to offer a summary on what happens when a student has an unexcused absence: with three unexcused absences, a letter is sent to parent/guardian; five unexcused absences and a parent conference and attendance contract is signed; six unexcused absences generates a referral to the director of student support services; ten unexcused absences, possible denial of course credit; and with 15 consecutive absences a student is dropped from school enrollment.

As for the issue of makeup work for unexcused absences, Dr. Smith favored the principal, improvement team and the department chairs sitting down and hammering out an agreement “on the declining credit allowed for makeup work prior to the start of the school year. And that can be communicated to the student body and the parents, even though it's a further distinction than what is gonna be in the Code of Conduct. They can do that and I think under the circumstances that would be wise to do that.”

The superintendent is expected to address the matter.

In Other News…

*School board members approved payment of final bills for the end of the fiscal year, which included two replacement vehicles (vans) for the transportation department, updated as well as renewals for the PLATO learning system, used with the new Horizon Academy and with remediation.

It was noted that, on a cash basis, the unspent local funds total $26,100. However, school officials were also anticipating a federal reimbursement of $7,800. If it were not received before the end of the fiscal year, it would reduce the unspent local funds to $18,200 to close out the 2011-12 school year.

*The school board authorized the superintendent to enter into a contract with the lowest fixed price bidder for the purchase of diesel, gasoline and heating fuel for the coming fiscal year. Prince Edward participates with several other area school divisions in a consortium (including seven this year). The consortium finalized the bid process earlier in June. Bids are to be opened July 12.

*School board members were presented information from Director of Exceptional Programs Tara McDaniel on the first draft of the revised local plan for the education of the gifted. A finalized copy for the board's review is expected in August.