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Posted: February 20, 2014 10:30 p.m.

Makeup days approved for students

School will be in session a little longer before summer break this school year, that’s if you’re not a graduating high school senior.

After considering several options for make-up days, the Newton County Board of Education voted to add three days to the end of the school calendar as make-up school days for days missed due to winter storms in January and February.

Students will attend school May 27, May 28 and May 29 as three of the seven missed instructional days, making May 29 the last day of school for students before the summer break. The last day for teachers will be June 2 for elementary teachers and June 3 for secondary teachers.

In her recommendation to the school board, Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey noted that the approved addition of the three school days could conflict with graduation dates.

If the state did not approve a resolution proposed by State School Superintendent John Barge allowing school systems flexibility regarding make-up days, Newton County high school seniors would be required to attend those three days added to the calendar and graduation dates would need to be adjusted accordingly.

The state Board of Education, however, approved that resolution Thursday morning. As such, the school district will not require high school seniors to make up the three additional days and as a result, graduation ceremonies can continue as originally scheduled on May 23 and May 24, said Sherri Davis-Viniard, NCSS Director of Public Relations.

Davis-Viniard said a school messenger call with information regarding high school graduation schedules was sent to parents of current high school seniors.

Despite the days missed due to inclement weather, NCSS students still had a three-day winter break this week, Feb. 19-21. Additionally, students will still be off the entire week of spring break, April 7-11.

According to school district officials, other proposals on making up the days were thoroughly reviewed by district administrators and the Board of Education members.

Some of those options included adding 30 minutes to the school day, which would have amounted to 42 longer school days; adding 60 minutes to the school day, which would have amounted to 21 longer school days; and another suggestion, having school on Saturday, which school system officials said was not instructionally sound as teachers and students would have had to complete three six-day school weeks.

A full list of make-up options considered can be found on the school system’s website, newtoncountyschools.org.

Craig Lockhart, NCSS deputy superintendent of schools, explained to the Board that after weighing the pros and cons of each option, adding three days to the end of the school calendar was the best option.

"None of this has been easy and again, we do know that having the three days at the end of the year, that’s a concern for some, we understand that. But please know that we have exhausted every possible option over numerous hours, trying to find out the best thing to do for our bucks," he said.

As a result of adding the three additional days to the school calendar, the school district is able to adjust the testing schedules for both the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) in elementary and middle schools and the End of Course tests (EOCTs) in high schools. School system officials said the new schedule will give students one additional week of classroom instruction before taking these tests.

"We’ve gotten messages from Facebook, email, text messages, and all kinds of feedback," Fuhrey said. "We’ve looked at everything that was presented to us in an effort to make the best decision for our kids and for teaching and learning. And that’s where we focused our efforts."

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