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Elizabethton board sets calendar for 2013-14 school year

Jennifer Sprouse • Mar 21, 2013 at 10:22 PM

The start date for Elizabethton City Schools in the fall will be Aug. 8, as the Elizabethton Board of Education approved one of two school calendar options at Thursday night’s meeting.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Richard Van Huss addressed the board over the differences between proposed Calendar A and Calendar B, which came down to the start and end dates of the 2013-14 school year.

“In Calendar A, the first semester has 85 school days, the second semester has 88, so there’s three days different in those two calendars. If you look at Calendar B, there are 80 days the first semester and 93 the second semester,” Van Huss said. “When you think about the high school ... the majority of their classes, they get a year’s worth of credit in a semester. If I (was) a student there and I was taking algebra I the first semester on Calendar B, I would have 80 days of instruction. If I took it the second semester, I would have 93.”

He said instructors would have to shuffle around their planning to accommodate the loss of 13 days of instruction, which he said on a traditional schedule would almost equal three weeks.

Van Huss further recommended the board approve Calendar A, which the Calendar Committee had already unanimously approved.

The board approved Calendar A on a 4-0 vote.

School board member Dr. Grover May was not in attendance at Thursday’s meeting.

A proposed first reading on a board policy regarding changing in the amount of days a resident can appeal to make an appearance before the board from seven to 10 days did not pass.

Superintendent of School Ed Alexander said before the vote that “the whole idea of having this policy is to get problems or concerns settled at the lowest possible level and once again, the additional three days would give us an opportunity to be contacted and work through a problem.”

Board Chairwoman Rita Booher said she was in favor of the revision and said it would give time for the board to prepare.

Board member Connie Baker disagreed, saying there were many steps already in place that people wishing to address the board already make.

“In previous cases, if someone has called a board member (the board member has) referred them back to the first step or (told) them that you need to do this before you can bring it before the board. I don’t know of a situation that they have not taken these previous steps before they came to the board,” Baker said. “I can’t recall a case.”

The motion did not pass, due to a 2-2 vote.

Alexander also updated the board on security plans for the city’s elementary schools and said he had discussed safety concerns with Elizabethton Police Chief Greg Workman. Alexander said Workman told him he does not have the capability of hiring three SROs for each of the three elementary schools.

“(Workman) indicated he felt that under the circumstances with Elizabethton being five miles across, that 18 armed officers could be responding in two and a half minutes to any school site. He does, however, encourage the placement of silent alarms, similar to bank alarms, at all schools,” Alexander said.

He said that coordination of city officers tapping into internal cameras at each of the schools is being worked on and said “if there’s an emergency in the school ... they can actually tap into that and access ... what’s going on in the school.”

Push-button devices, silent alarms and wiring for cameras and burglary alarms at East Side Elementary School was also addressed at Thursday’s meeting.

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