School calendar amended for inclement weather days

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The Wilson County Board of Education approved changes to its 2018-19 traditional calendar that will allow the school district to complete the academic year for employees in 215 days.

Wilson County Schools closed for Hurricane Michael on Oct. 11. In order to make up this day, the board moved the April 19 holiday to April 22 and converted April 19 to an optional workday. The former April 22 annual leave day was moved to Oct. 11, 2018. The Oct. 19 workday had previously been approved as a make-up instructional day.

Additionally, WCS was closed for a snow day on Dec. 10. To make up the day, the board moved the June 7 annual leave day to Dec. 10 and made June 7 an optional workday. The workday on Feb. 18 became an instructional day.

“We don’t want to go too far into the winter months and not be able to capture a day before it gets past us,” said Cheryl Wilson, associate superintendent.

Board Chairwoman Christine Fitch said part of the discussion in the administrative services committee was to try to ensure that if the school district has multiple days of inclement weather, make-up days do not affect spring break.

“We know that this is still January and our winter months are still ahead of us so we have the rest of January, all of February and we know that we can have inclement weather in March, so we are trying to make sure that we have as much time to be able to as much as possible keep clear from having to take time at spring break,” Fitch said.

The board also passed a resolution drafted by the North Carolina School Boards Association supporting local control of school calendars, as opposed to the one-size-fits-all approach the N.C. General Assembly has exercised since 2004. The resolution cited bad timing for exams, mis-alignment with community college and university calendars, shortened test preparation time, summer learning loss affecting low-income children, child nutrition and inflexibility in the calendar making scheduling make-up days a hardship, among other reasons for requesting a return to local control of school calendars.

In other action items, the board passed 10 new and revised policies after second readings. They include policies on curriculum development, online instruction, evaluation of instructional programs, religious-based exemptions from school programs, counseling programs, equal educational opportunities, education for pregnant and parenting students and age requirements for initial entry and homeless students.

The board heard about bonuses for third-grade reading, fourth-and fifth-grade reading, sixth through eighth-grade math, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate and career and technical education teachers.

Wanda Dawson, interim assistant superintendent of human resources services from the central office, delivered the report.

Third-grade teachers were eligible to receive a bonus in reading based on the Education Value-Added Assessment System growth in the top 25 percent of the state and/or the top 25 percent of the local education agency, or LEA. The grade three teachers could receive both bonuses. The amount of the reading state bonus was $3,251 and the amount for the reading LEA bonus was $3,251.

“I am proud to say that we had 11 teachers in third grade that received the reading LEA bonus. We had 12 teachers that received the reading state bonus and out of those 12, we had 11 that received both bonuses,” Dawson said.

Fourth and fifth-grade teachers received $2,000 bonuses per categories of reading and math.

“We had 15 teachers that received the reading LEA bonus, 12 teachers that received the reading state bonus and 12 teachers receiving both bonuses in the area of reading,” Dawson said. “For math, we had 16 teachers that received the math LEA bonus, 15 teachers that received the math state bonus and 15 that received both in reading and math. A teacher who received a bonus in both areas in reading and both areas in math could receive as much as $8,000.

“For sixth through eighth-grade math bonuses, teachers could receive $2,000 per category and they can only receive this money in the area of math. We had eight teachers receiving the LEA math bonus, nine teachers that received the state math bonus and seven teachers that received both of the bonuses.”

The career and technical education bonus was $25 or $50 depending on the type of course, for every student taught by a teacher who provided instruction in a course that led to attainment of industry certification credentials.

Dawson said Wilson County Schools had nine teachers who received the bonuses this year.

The last category is the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate program bonus. It’s based on student performance. The AP had to receive three or higher. The IB, four or higher. The teacher could earn 50 per student up to $3,500 if he or she continued to teach in the same LEA.

“We had 27 teachers to receive this,” Dawson said. “The teacher had to be employed in the same LEA to receive all these bonuses and they had to remain in the field of teaching.”