POINT PLEASANT — The last day of school for Mason County students is now, officially, May 31.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Mason County Board of Education, board members approved changes to the school calendar as well as discussing some confusion among students and staff regarding the changes. The changes included moving three Outside School Environment (OS) Days, where school is not in session, to the end of the year therefore moving the students’ last day up to May 31.
Superintendent Suzanne Dickens explained each school year after March 1, they have the option of moving OS days to the end of the year and when compared to other years when no changes were made, they had a little more flexibility this year.
At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, OS days were set for March 1, 8, 15, 22, and April 12 and 19. Originally, the days can serve as optional make-up instructional days for days missed because of inclement weather. When the changes were discussed at a meeting in February, Dickens said they would be keeping the OS days on March 1 and March 22. March 8 was already converted to a make-up day.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Dickens reiterated her reasons for moving the OS days set for March 15, April 12 and 19 to the end of the year, saying they were honoring requests from Wahama High School students and staff and various elementary school teachers. Wahama’s annual dinner theater was set for March 15 and students and staff felt the show would benefit from having school on Friday, thus moving this OS day to the end of the year. Dickens also mentioned another reason for converting the March 8 OS day to a make-up day, honoring a similar request from Point Pleasant High School concerning their annual Black Knight Revue.
Regarding the days in April, several elementary school teachers requested to have more instruction time during that month in order to prepare their students for upcoming tests, thus moving the two OS days in April.
While Dickens and board members did note the school calendar at the beginning of the year includes the words “subject to change” and the possible changes had been discussed prior to this meeting, there was still confusion on whether or not school would be in session on Friday, March 15. Since this meeting was the first meeting after March 1, the date after which changes can be made, changes were not approved until Tuesday evening.
Board member Greg Fowler said he had numerous inquiries as to whether school was or was not in session on Friday, March 15, in addition to questioning what the board could possibly do to avoid such confusion in the future. Fowler also asked, since the change was only approved on Tuesday, if this provided students and staff with long enough of a notice that school would be in session.
Noting again this was one of the first years the board had this flexibility in the school calendar, Dickens said in future years they can make more of an effort to keep everyone informed and possibly try to make any changes earlier, providing students and staff with more of a notice. The updated school calendar is available to view on the board’s website.
Also at the meeting, Ruth Caplinger and John Lehew spoke to the board on updating the preschool and kindergarten playgrounds at Ashton Elementary, New Haven Elementary, and Beale Elementary Schools. Lehew said they had been approached by their partners with the local Head start programs who said they’d provide funding for these improvements.
Lehew said the improvements would include fencing for the playgrounds, the addition of play equipment including some musical instruments like bongo drums and a glockenspiel, which is similar to a xylophone, as well as making the playground at Ashton handicap accessible.
Board members were in favor of the improvements and the matter will be officially voted on at a later meeting.
In addition to Superintendent Dickens, board members present were Thomas Nunnery, Randy Searls, Greg Fowler, Paul Sayre, and Dale Shobe.
The Mason County Board of Education meeting for the remainder of March include the following: a Special Transfer Hearings meeting at 6 p.m. on March 19, a Special Statutory Business meeting at 3:45 p.m. on March 21, a Policy/Regular Business meeting at 4 p.m. on March 21, and a Regular Business meeting at 6 p.m. on March 26. All meetings will be at the Mason County Career Center.