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Woodridge exploring earlier school year

12/19/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

Plus, school board votes to place renewal levy on May ballot

PENINSULA — Next year, Woodridge Local Schools students might begin school Aug. 13 and finish May 27, 2015.

That was the calendar proposal discussed at a public hearing that filled the Woodridge High School library with people Dec. 10.

Superintendent Walter Davis explained the Board of Education and school administrators were looking into an alternative school year that would begin and end earlier than the current schedule. They are seeking public input on the proposal.

The earlier school year would have the same number of instructional hours as the current one — which is more than what is required by the Ohio Revised Code, said Davis — and would have several advantages.

For example, the two-week winter break would begin just before Christmas, running from Dec. 22 through Jan. 2. This would align with the end of the first semester, so students and staff could begin the new semester in January rather than having a large gap in the first semester’s instruction.

Starting the school year earlier also would maximize the instructional time before the mandatory state tests, Davis said.

The Ohio General Assembly recently changed the minimum required instructional time to hours instead of the current days, he said, and eliminated the “calamity days” that school districts had used for closings for such things as blizzards.

Since Woodridge schools are already in session longer than required by the state, they have enough time built in if they need to take a snow or other calamity day, Davis said.

For those concerned about the heat in August, Davis presented average August temperatures for the past 10 years, all 80 degrees F or above. He noted the middle school has central air conditioning, the high school has some air-conditioned areas, and the intermediate and primary schools have window air-conditioning units in all classrooms.

The district has put a survey about the proposed calendar change on its website, www.woodridge.k12.oh.us.

“We want to know what people think,” Davis said, and encouraged Woodridge community members to respond. He said they would also meet with parent and booster organizations to discuss the subject.

During the regular school board meeting after the hearing, the board voted to put a 10-year renewal operating levy on the May 6 election ballot.

This will combine two current levies that expire in 2014 and thus will need to be renewed to maintain the necessary operating revenue, said Treasurer Deanna Levenger. The levy, if passed, will produce $5.27 million per year for the district.

Levenger stressed that it will be a renewal levy, not a new tax.

It was the last board meeting for member Jeff McHugh, who was not re-elected in November. Davis expressed to McHugh his “deepest appreciation for your years on the board.”

The Woodridge school board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14 6 p.m. in the Library of Woodridge High School, located at 4440 Quick Road.

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