Thursday, March 6, 2014
Memorial Day is one of the two instructional make-up days in Berkeley County schools following the four missed days of school due to an icy winter storm this month.
Winter Storm Pax brought power outages and damage to much of the county, prompting the district to cancel school.
With two board members absent during last week’s regular meeting, Berkeley County Board of Education voted 6-0 to use Friday, April 21, and Monday, May 26, as instruction days.
Board member Phillip Obie voiced his opposition to using Memorial Day prior to the vote, but in the end, voted in favor of the day being assigned for school.
“Let’s make it up with a day they’re already going to be there versus making it a day where we know people traditionally travel,” Obie said. “Memorial Day seems like a lost cause with everyone with vacations … it will be very low attended.”
Superintendent Rodney Thompson said families and staff with set travel plans on Memorial Day can appeal to the district. According to board member Shannon Lee, high school students can have only five absent days before becoming in danger of failing a course.
The board also voted 5-1 to extend a scheduled half-day for elementary and middle schools to a full day on Friday, March 21. Board member Kathy Schwalbe voted against extending the day. The half-day extension won’t count toward a full instructional day, according to district staff.
The board voted for two of the four needed make-up days in response to possible legislation from the S.C. General Assembly that could make allowances for forgiving days missed due to the February storm.
If the General Assembly does not allow forgiving instruction days lost, two other makeup days suggested by the district’s administrative staff included June 2 and June 3, days that come after high school graduation in the county.
“To me, it’s ludicrous to bring kids back after graduation. What are they going to do, watch TV to make up for lost instructional days?” board member Doug Cooper said during discussion.
Board chair Kent Murray and board member Sheldon Etheridge were not present at last week’s meeting. The board usually consists of nine members, but board member Scott Marino resigned from his position at the end of 2013. A special election to fill the vacancy will be held April 8.