Schools to go one extra day for snow

The Lebanon Community Schools will extend three early release days and add a single day to the schedule to make up two of four snow days.

The School Board reached a consensus Thursday evening, March 14, during its regular meeting to add student seat time to the calendar this year.

Interim Supt. Bo Yates had proposed extending five early release Wednesdays, which reduces the amount of professional development time available to teachers but brings back about two days of seat time. The board met in the middle, extending three days instead, a gain of six hours, to add back some time without eliminating as much professional development time.

Yates said he needed to meet with the district’s leadership team, but he anticipated that the first three Wednesdays of April would be extended to full days. He expected to confirm it and post that information to the district’s website, lebanon.k12.or.us, Friday.

The district had one make-up day built into the schedule, April 24, Yates said. That day, which had been off for students, will be a regular school day.

“We have had some conversations in regard to what we  think would the best way to go about recouping some of that time,” he said.

“One of the issues was trying to get time that was earlier rather than later because we don’t think that’s as valuable as learning time, and we want to get as much time before testing as possible, so we looked at the possibility of extending our early release days.

“It adds seat time. The kids are getting more seat time. They’re getting more time in front of the teacher.”

The law requires high school students to have 990 hours during the year, he said, and the schedule provides that without adding any days back into the schedule.

Even so, district officials want to get as much seat time as possible to prepare students for state testing, he said. If the district added days at the end of the year, it’s not as popular. Many people already have plans in place.

Board Chairman Tom Oliver expressed concerns about cutting too much professional development time, and said he would be fine not adding any time back into the calendar other than the makeup day already built into the schedule.

“(Professional Development) is an area we have said is important,” Oliver said.

“We want to make sure that’s available to our staff. There’s a trade-off there.

“Obviously, we want the kids in the classroom, but if there’s not a significant impact and we’ve met all of the requirements, if we legitimately feel like that will not have a large impact on how well we prepare the students, I would hate to miss out on that PD time because that’s an area that I think adds a lot of value.”

Board Member Nick Brooks asked whether the district would be forcing classified staff to take unpaid time off.

Jennifer Meckley, director of Human Resources and Community Relations, said employees are paid for the time off based on their contracts.

Brooks said he was interested in adding back three afternoons instead of five.

“So we split the difference somewhere in the middle,” Oliver said. “We’re fine either way. I’m comfortable going all the way to not extending any Wednesdays, but if we think we can find the right balance there between some more time in the classroom and not losing out too much PD, I think that’s probably a pretty good place to be.”

The board reached a consensus and directed Yates to extend three Wednesdays and operate school on April 24.

Present at the meeting were Oliver, Brooks, Tammy Schilling, Richard Borden and Mike Martin.

In other business, the board;

n Approved the 2019-20 school calendar with school beginning on Sept. 3.

The board also considered a calendar beginning on Aug. 26, before Labor Day.

Putting on his “parent hat,” Oliver said “after Labor Day feels better to me,” and the board concurred, approving the calendar.

Christmas break will begin on Dec. 23. Classes resume on Jan. 6. Spring break is scheduled for March 23 to March 27.

May 22 is scheduled as a snow makeup day.

Graduation will be June 9, and the last day of classes will be June 11.

Yates told the board that the end of the first semester on Jan. 23 means the first semester is longer than the second, but it aligns with neighboring districts, which is important for students who may transfer.

n Heard from Oliver that the names of finalists for superintendent would be announced Friday, March 15, on the district’s website, lebanon.k12.or.us, along with details of meet-and-greet events on April 1 and April 2.

n Approved the district’s annual contract for services with the Linn-Benton-Lincoln Education Service District.

n Approved contract renewals for teachers and administrators.

n Appointed eighth-grade teacher Brandon Weist as interim principal at Lacomb School. Principal Whitney Connolly is on a leave of absence.

n Approved the hiring of temporary first-grade teacher Cynthia Cady.

n Approved a leave of absence for teacher Robert Zornow.