Saturday, February 28, 2015
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Sharon Gillespie’s third grade class at Mapleton Elementary School recently performed “Little Red Riding Hood: The Musical” The play is an annual rite of passage in Gillespie’s class. Pictured in the photo above, from left, are: Katie Nester, Noah Britton, Hannah Peters, Pandora Basye (portraying Little Red Riding Hood), Reagan Akers and Jenna Easterwood. Photo by Tom Marshall
District takes part of spring break
By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
The Montgomery County Board of Education agreed to an amended school calendar Tuesday night that takes away part of spring break.

The plan approved includes the use of the first three days of spring break (Monday through Wednesday, March 30-31 and April 1) with Thursday and Friday (April 2 and 3) remaining as days out of school.

The measure was approved by a 3-2 vote with members Kelly Johnson, Alice Anderson and Bill Morgan voting “yes” and Sharon Smith-Breiner and Donna Wilson voting “no.” Johnson made the motion to adopt the plan and it was seconded by Morgan.

The calendar adopted before the year began stated that “If 10 or more days are missed due to weather, all of spring break will be used for instruction and school will be in session.”

Prior to the vote, Smith-Breiner reminded teachers and staff that if the district missed 10 days or more spring break was on the table.
Assistant Superintendent Phil Rison told the board that officially the district has missed 10 days to date because Feb. 16 (President’s Day) had been included since then as a school day. Nine other days have been missed.

There was an audible grumble among some of the faculty who attended the meeting when the decision was announced.
The new calendar places the last day for students as May 28 with the last day for staff as May 29.

Rison said graduation will likely be held May 29.
The board looked at three options. One would have made no changes and kept spring break intact with the last day of school on June 2. The other plan would have utilized all of spring break and concluded classes on May 26.

Wilson made a motion at one point to use all of spring break but it failed due to lack of a second.

The district is also using KEA Day March 20 as a school day and is waiting to see if the state Legislature will allow it to use May 19 (Election Day) as an alternate day.

The Advocate asked for the public’s feedback on the board’s decision regarding spring break on Facebook. There was mixed reaction.
Shannon Denniston posted: “I think snow days should be built into the school calendar and any additional missed days should be excused and not need to be made up. Will taking these three days of spring break make our children smarter? I don’t think so. It’s all about money, it’s not about education.”

Teresa Johnson agreed with the board’s decision.
“People are going to complain no matter what,” she wrote. “But the fact is they said at the end of the year last year that they would start going by the standard of taking spring break away to make up snow days. The letter that went out even said to be prepared for that fact before making plans ... so the way I look at it is you knew ahead of time. We are much more concerned with summer than spring break.”

Ed Hart said, “If you want to take something shorten fall break. Nobody needs six days off for court day.”

Autumn Stockdale King agreed with Hart that six days for fall break is too much.

“It states at the beginning of the school year calendar that spring break will be used as make up days if needed. Sorry, but people should take that into account before plans are made. I’d rather give my child a decent summer break than one week off for spring break. Also, two days off for fall break would have been plenty, six days was a little excessive.”

Amy Barnett Smith said she approved the decision.
“I am for it, summer break was way too short last year!”
Wendy Jacoby Lawwill said those who have scheduled spring break vacations will go regardless.

“Spring break? There are many people that cannot afford a “break. They keep working to pay bills! If the children are in school learning that is one less stress on their parents—wondering who is going to be watching them. If a break is important to the people who can afford a vacation then go. Get homework ahead of time. I grew up in a two parent teacher household ... all decisions are not made on a local level. Take into consideration state and federal regulations.”

Kenny Barrett said his children will not be attending school during spring break.

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