School day will become 12 minutes longer due to weather cancellations by M. Jill Karolevitz Twelve minutes will be added to each school day beginning Jan. 23 for Vermillion students to make up snow days already lost, and �buy some time� in case inclement weather stops classes again.
The Vermillion School Board approved the 12-minute daily addition during its meeting Monday night, Jan. 8.
The last day of school will be May 25.
�We�ve missed two days and have had four late starts due to weather,� said Superintendent Robert Mayer. �We have to make up that time. We�re okay now, but we have to allow for the (future) possibility of calling off school for bad weather.�
According to a letter that will be distributed to parents regarding the additional 12 minutes, �by adding 12 minutes to the day, we gain about two days. This means that if we use fewer than two ?snow� days, we would not attend school after Memorial Day. If more than two snow days are used, then attendance after Memorial Day will occur.�
�I�m not a great believer in adding minutes, but if you attach days to the end of the school year, you really don�t get anything,� Mayer said to the school board members. �The kids are so pumped up to leave by that time, they don�t get much out of their classes.�
�If we take Bob�s recommendation, the administrators of each school could figure out how to make it work,� said Tom Craig, school board president. �Classes could be done before Memorial Day and I believe students can get a quality education through the duration of that week. But if they have to come back after Memorial Day, teachers have probably lost their audience.�
Pat Anderson, principal at Vermillion Middle School, had talked to some members of his staff about the idea prior to the school board meeting, and was met with support.
�It�s a good solution to the problem,� he said. �But there probably should be consistency among each building as much as there can be.�
He also noted that it�s better to add the time in the afternoon because of bussing.
�Many of the students have to get up quite early as it is to get on the bus,� he said.
The school board voted unanimously for the additional minutes.
�I think it�s a good idea,� said Doug Tuetken, principal at Vermillion High School. �We will take full advantage of it here and the staff supports it.�
Mark Upward, assistant elementary principal, said an altered schedule still has to be determined at Austin School.
�I�m not sure how it will work, but we will make it work,� he said. �The key is to use the time to our advantage.�
�We�ll add the time on(at Jolley School) after lunch and the teachers can use it in a variety of ways,� said Bob Bowker, elementary principal. �They can use it for reading or math or whatever.�
Administrators have met since the school board meeting to discuss details, which are outlined in the letter to be sent to parents of Vermillion students.
�The new schedule adds the 12 minutes at the end of the day,� the letter states. �Buses will not pick up students earlier than normal. The new dismissal times are: Elementary, 3:22 p.m.; Middle School, 3:27 p.m.; and High School, 3:29 p.m.�
In other business, the school board heard a construction update from Mayer.
�The project is significantly behind schedule because of the weather,� he said. �The crew has caught up some since the the weather has improved, but we have to re-establish some priorities. We will have a construction meeting Wednesday (Jan. 10) and I will raise a number of issues with them.�