Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Three calendar choices selected to go to teachers

During last week’s meeting, the Washington County Board of Education approved allowing professional staff to vote on three different calendar options, one of which will have schools closed on Election Day.
Board member David Hammond, who is a member of the Calendar Committee, said they developed two more versions of the 2014-2015 school calendar for the professional staff to vote on, one of which has schools closed on Thursday, Aug. 7, the date of the state primary and county general election.
The third option has schools starting the following Monday, which extends summer vacation by three or four days but reduces the number of days off during fall break.
“My problem with that is we are putting the accountability on teachers on whether we should be in school or not,” board member Todd Ganger said. “That is our responsibility to make that choice.”
Board member Clarence Mabe agreed. “I don’t think teachers should be put in that position to make that safety call,” he said.
Director of Schools Ron Dykes reminded board members they do not want to remove input from faculty.
“The calendar choice is very important to them,” he said. “You show a lot of courage and faith in their input by giving them options.”
A vote was taken, which failed, to eliminate the third calendar option and allow professional staff to vote on the first two options.
The board had a long discussion during its December meeting about keeping schools open on Election Day because of safety concerns.
Chairman Chad Williams said he likes the idea of schools being the center of the community. By holding elections in schools, he said it keeps the schools at the center of the community.
“Times have changed,” Vice Chairman Bill Brinkley said. “We are talking about safety issues, the logistics behind it. Times have changed and communities have grown.”
Board member Mary Lo Silvers said she is just as concerned about safety issues as everyone else. However, considering the amount of work that has already gone into the calendar, she suggested waiting one more year to look into the election issue.
“This is every four years when we have this large county election,” Williams said. “It won’t be a problem for another four years.”
Ganger shared further safety concerns.
“I think we are avoiding an issue and putting it off again,” he said.
Board member Keith Ervin suggested having more School Resource Officers present at the seven schools on Election Day. He said the election is confined to the foyer of the schools, so voters will not be wandering the schools.
A final vote was taken on having professional staff vote on all three calendars.
Although three board members voted against the motion, it passed.
After the vote, Brinkley made a motion, which passed, for Dykes to approach the county Election Commission and start the discussion process of whether it is feasible to take voting out of schools.
“Even if I approach them tomorrow, the likelihood will be extremely problematic,” Dykes said of changing the election locations this year. “I don’t think it’s even logical to assume it will affect this school year’s calendar.”
Board member Jack Leonard said although nothing will change this year, it should be a work in progress for the future.
The board also voted Saturday, May 24, as graduation day for seniors for this school year.