IRSD approves 2005-06 calendar

Students in the Indian River School District (IRSD) will still be able to work (or play) until Labor Day next year.
However, unlike this year, they should be out before the third week of June.

The IRSD settled on the 2005-2006 calendar format at the March 22 School Board meeting.

As it stands, the first day back will be Wednesday, Sept. 6 (two days after Labor Day). Students will have a shorter Easter holiday (a four-day weekend), but should be out by June 7, weather permitting.

School Board members needed to come up with some kind of plan by the April 26 meeting, or lose the initiative. A failure to act by then would have led to a replay of the 2004-2005 calendar, by default.

From the outset, Board Member Reggie Helms said he thought this school year was running far too deep into the summer.

“I need five days,” he said. “I won’t have an argument if someone takes them out of Easter, or if we start before Labor Day — I just need to find five somewhere in this 180-day school year.”

The IRSD was looking at June 20 this year, but as students will likely be pleased to learn, the School Board unanimously changed that to June 17 later in the meeting.

Board President Harvey Walls broached the topic, and Board Member Donald G. Hattier followed up with the motion.

“Like you (Walls), I don’t see much point in going out for the weekend and coming back for a half day,” Hattier said. (June 20 would have fallen on a Monday.)

Although the calendar the School Board chose for next year should let out much earlier, Board Member Dr. Mark Isaacs voiced concerns.

He noted few snow days set aside — four, as opposed to six in other plans presented by Director of Personnel Dr. Michael Owens. Isaacs cast the sole vote in opposition.

The consensus was to tack extra snow days onto end the school year, if necessary.

Board Member Charles Bireley added one change to the proposed calendar — Monday, Jan. 2, 2006 was listed as a school day. It was changed to a holiday, to align with the state practice of observing holidays during the week, even if they fall on weekends.

Hattier also recognized concerns raised by Indian River Education Association (IREA — teachers’ union) representative J.R. Emanuele.

He had questioned a half day that had been changed to a full day off, but wasn’t listed as a snow makeup day, saying it would have been a good day for the teachers to work on grades.

Emanuele also requested the School Board keep another half day on the books and use it as compensation for extra hours spent in parent-teacher conferences.

“I feel he had a point,” Hattier stated, and his colleagues agreed to work both half days in somewhere.

One of the plans Owens presented recommended a shift from the traditional 180-day school year to one based on hours of instruction.

State code no longer references days — only minimum hourly standards.

• 440 hours of instruction for kindergarten
• 1,060 hours for grades 1 through 11
• 1,032 for grade 12

Districts can use their own discretion in how they order their calendars, as long as they meet those minimum criteria.

While Walls said the neighboring Cape Henlopen School District had gone to an hourly calendar, the option found little support among IRSD School Board members.

In other business, construction manager Ted Dwyer (president, EDiS) relayed progress at the two new high schools.

Dwyer said work was proceeding in Sussex Central High’s “B” wing, and crews were moving equipment into two music rooms there. He expected they would have floors complete in the auxiliary gym by the end of March.

At Indian River High, he said the kitchen had passed final inspection, but work on fire alarm equipment hadn’t been completed in time for the State Fire Marshal’s Office inspection. Dwyer said they’d scheduled another inspection for March 28, with final inspection set for early April.

He also expected technology systems to be through final checkout by early April.

Dwyer expected the Lord Baltimore Elementary School renovation project to go out for bid on April 6.