Calendar change could up attendance

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The South Putnam School Corporation hope the new calendar for the 2007-08 academic year will improve attendance rates on the Friday before spring break.

Supt. Bruce Bernhardt informed the South Putnam School Board at Tuesday's meeting that he has met with the other school corporations to discuss and coordinate the school calendars for next year, since all county schools send students to the Area 30 Career Center and all are a part of the Old National Trail special education program.

According to Bernhardt , all the county corporations try to get their starting and ending dates, major holidays and breaks as close together as possible, even though there might a day or two that vary depending upon the individual corporation's needs.

For South Putnam, the starting date for the teachers is Aug. 13, while the students would report on Aug. 14. For Christmas Break, students would attend through Friday, Dec. 21 and would have a two week break before returning to school on Monday, Jan. 7, while the teachers would come back on Friday, Jan. 4, 2008.

Bernhardt did mention a change from this year's calendar. Instead of having a two day fall break, the schools will have a one day break and that extra day will be moved to the Friday before spring break.

"We want to try that this year to see if that will help us improve on our attendance because traditionally the Friday before spring break you have those very high number of students out," Bernhardt said.

Spring break for the schools will be the last full week in March, while the last full day for students would be Thursday, May 22, 2008 with teachers coming in for record's day on Friday, May 23.

Bernhardt also said there was a flex day built into the calendar in April to be used as a snow make-up day, along two other built in snow days on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and President's Day.

Board member Nancy Wells asked Bernhardt if the teachers had looked over this. Bernhardt said the teachers had never seen a hard copy version, but they were included in the discussions so they had an idea of what the calendar would look like.

Board member Mike Rissler encouraged Bernhardt to work with the other school corporations involved with Area 30 to create one calendar for all the county schools to use.

Bernhardt said the schools all try to create such a calendar, but there are those days that the schools just like to take off.

The board approved the 2007-2008 calendar as presented by a five to zero vote.

In other business, the board:

* Learned that several students from the junior/senior high school were named students of the month. Those student were seventh grader Rebecca Tinsley, eighth grader Olivia Cavell, freshman Laura Pruitt, sophomore Seth Bowen, junior Samantha Stanifer and senior Ben Wallace.

* Approved, by a five to zero vote, the hiring of Jennie Halcomb as a bus driver, Greg Branham as a high school custodian, Holly Smith as Central Elementary part-time custodian and Chris Burghardt as the junior high girls' swim coach. The board also approved the hiring Scott Ricke as the high school boys' varsity golf coach by a three to two vote.

* Approved, by a five to zero vote, the transfer of Cathy Jackson from part-time Central Elementary custodian to a full-time custodian at the high school, the maternity leave of Deanne Blankenship and Tona Gardner. The board also approved the resignation of high school custodian Gene Holmes and the termination of high school custodian Marla Sanders.

* Approved Fillmore and Reelsville youth leagues' request to use the baseball diamonds for its youth programs.

* Approved Res-Care's request to a bus to transport students to different activities. Res-Care would be able to use bus a total of five times through the end of March.

* Learned that the snow make-up days will be May, 23-25 and May 29. Bernhardt said he was not sure how this would effect graduation, but the administrators were looking into it. The board also learned that the graduation qualification examination (GQE) retest for those that did not pass the first time is scheduled for March 13-15.

The school board meets regularly every third Monday of the month at 7 p.m. in the music room at Central Elementary. The next scheduled meeting is set for Monday, March 19. It is open to the public.

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