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Chuck Hughes: Here are the facts on extended-day discussion

By Chuck Hughes

As a member of the Board of Education, I hesitated to weigh in on the discussion of the extended school day policy. However, since others have weighed in, I decided I will share my understanding of the reason we voted for the change in policy based upon my memory and review of the related board minutes.

Relevant extracts from the minutes of the Board of Education’s Feb. 24, 2014 meeting:

Mr. (Josh) Wagner made a motion to amend the agenda to include discussion on the snow make-up days … unanimously approved. Colby Cochran, Director of Assessment and Accountability, informed the Board about different ways that the missed instructional time could be made up for the missed snow days. He also presented a plan to the Board that the system can use if any more days are missed due to bad weather.

During the discussion of the issue, I asked the question (not reflected in the minutes), “Will the students get a refund of any unused banked time when spring arrives?” The answer was “No. They will just get more curriculum exposure.” Other than that comment, I do not recall any further mention of the need or desire to extend the school day in order to add curriculum time per se.

The “added minutes” issue next appeared at the March 24, 2014 meeting. By this time the need to have a snow-day savings account had morphed into a desire to increase student curriculum exposure. Minutes of this meeting read as follows:

Relevant extracts from the minutes of the Board of Education’s March 24, 2014 meeting:

Julie Morrow, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, gave a report to the Board concerning adding ten minutes to the school day. She informed the Board that adding ten minutes to each day (is) will add fifty-five instructional hours, which is the equivalent of nine school days.

There was no other mention of snow days in the minutes.

Although I did not believe that 10 minutes a day would have a significant academic impact, I viewed the added minutes as putting “money” aside for a “snowy/icy day emergency” and voted for the plan. Having these extra hours banked, why would we not want to either use them to make up lost days if needed or refund them at the end of the year if not used?

Unfortunately, how the accumulated minutes would affect the teaching staff was never discussed.

The apparent confusion and misunderstanding mentioned in the Post’s article and the comments by Ms. Susan Burris support my argument that the Board of Education needs to videotape its meetings and post them for viewing by the residents of Rowan County rather than rely on the postmortem recollections of those in attendance.

Chuck Hughes is a member of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.

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