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More snow days in Washington County will mean school on Saturdays

Board members gave Director of Schools Ron Dykes permission to schedule classes on Saturdays if additional days are missed because of bad weather.
As of the Jan. 3 meeting of the Board of Education, Washington County schools have lost 16 instructional days due to inclement weather.
Dykes proposed a plan to cover those 16 days and requested using Saturdays as a last resort if the system has future cancellations.
Ten of the days will wipe out the stockpile reserved in the school calendar for bad weather. An additional three will come from days originally planned for staff development, which leaves three days that must be made up.
Dykes proposed using Feb. 21, which was planned as a Presidents’ Day holiday, and adding May 19 and 20 to the end of the school year.
The only other options are to take days from the spring break scheduled for March 21-25 or add them to the end of the year.
Dykes said he hesitates to use spring break since some families have already made plans.
In addition, a required number of instructional days must be completed before the annual achievement test taken in April as part of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, which is the problem with tacking on more days to the end of the calendar.
Beginning this year, TCAP scores will affect 25 percent of the students’ semester grade average. TCAP scores also will be considered in teacher evaluations for the first time. The increased impact of the scores are part of the new educational curriculum introduced last year by the state.
“It’s a disadvantage to the students and the teachers to not have the full number of days to prepare,” Dykes said.
McClain added to the motion a request for teachers to recognize former presidents in some way during the make-up day on Feb. 21. “This is the reason for the holiday,” he said.
The plan for the 16 days missed thus far was approved by unanimous vote.
During a discussion of future cancellations and the possible use of Saturdays, Board Member Keith Ervin asked if adding half an hour to each end of the standard weekdays would help make up some of the missed time. Dykes said state law does not allow the school day to be lengthened.
Members wondered if attendance would suffer for Saturday classes, but Board Chairman Phillip McClain said he recently saw a figure of 85 percent from Unicoi County for a Saturday school day.
Board Member Chad Williams suggested scheduling the Saturday classes as soon as possible following a missed day, so the students would still have only a five-day week.
At the end of the meeting, Dykes read a proposed resolution pledging full support from the Washington County Board of Education and School System of Northeast State Community College’s establishment of a satellite site in Johnson City’s Downtown Centre.
The motion for approval of the resolution passed unanimously.