In March 12 IssueBy John ThompsonNews-Register Reporter
The Russell County School System has enacted a policy lengthening the school day in an effort to make up for lost days due to harsh winter weather.
On Wednesday the School Board convened in a special session with one item on the agenda; extending the school day for the remainder of the 2010-2011 school year by 48 minutes on a daily basis so that six missed days could be made up.
The measure, allowed as an "emergency clause" of Kentucky House Bill 427 gives school districts different options to make up school days rather than to meet the required minimum number of 170 school days. The measure would still meet the requirement of 1,062 instructional hours.
In this school year, Russell County Schools have missed 18 days due to inclement weather, enough that the school year would have been pushed back to June 6 before dismissal for the summer recess. The extended school day will allow for a May 26 last day for student attendance.
Gov. Steve Beshear signed HB 427 this week after passing both the state house and senate.
Local school administrators were to partake in a "webinar" seminar Thursday at 2 p.m. with the expectation of further clarification.
The vote by the board was unanimous and will allow for students and teacher to now go later in the day rather than forfeit entire days deep into the month of June.
The emergency excusal verification and ability to implement is further complicated by an abrupt ending of the 112th Legislative Session on Wednesday by Senate President David Williams. The move cut 12 legislative days from the calendar. Governor Steve Beshear promptly announced on Wednesday afternoon that a special legislative session would commence on Monday to resume work on the coming years' Medicaid budget.
The new policy for Russell County Schools will go into effect on Monday, March 14, if the legislation is signed by the governor or if the signature is in all likelihood pending. Please stay tuned to local radio stations for an update on this issue to insure that you know when your school will be letting out this coming week.
The new schedule will keep the busses running at the same time in the morning, and running just over 30 minutes later in the afternoon. Each school has released a schedule for school start and end times, as follows:
RCHS 7:30 am - 2:58 pm
RCMS 7:30 am - 3:12 pm
JES 7:25 am - 3:03 pm
RSES 7:25 am - 3:03 pm
SES 7:25 am - 3:13 pm
UCES 7:15 am - 3:06 pm
It is still to be determined how the extra minutes will be utilized, whether lengthening certain classes or all classes. "We will add, probably 30 something minutes to the end of the day," said Superintendent Kenny Picket, "the busses will run at a different time in the afternoon, but in the morning will stay the same."
Within the legislation expected to be signed by Governor Beshear there are three options to make up for missed days, but not all options are available to each school district.
• A special waiver by the Commissioner of Education for local boards of education to forego making up all remaining instructional days scheduled on or after June 21, provided that all makeup days have been used.
• School boards can add at least 30 minutes to remaining instructional days to make up for missed days due to inclement weather or widespread illness. The added instructional time would allow for the equivalent of 177 six hour instructional time without the actual number of days, mandated by law, to be met.
• The Commissioner of Education can grant up to 10 instructional days waived if the school has missed an unusually large number of days for health or safety reasons and all available alternative methods of instruction have been utilized.
Neither the first nor the third option as outlined applied to the situation facing the Russell County School System. The board's vote is to adopt the second option, allowing for lengthening of the school day by at least 30 minutes. The 48 minutes as stipulated is an administrative decision allowing for the excusal of six instructional days.