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Stafford students keep weekends

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Park Ridge Elementary School student Nya Harris made it clear Tuesday night that she didn’t want to go to school on Saturdays or during spring break.

“Saturdays should not be taken from us because those should be our days to kick back and relax,” Nya said to applause from the audience at Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Stafford School Board.

The school officials had to decide how to make up more than 16 days’ worth of instructional time lost to this winter’s cold and snowy days.

Several parents and teachers also spoke out against rumored plans to have students attend school on Saturdays or during spring break. A few also asked the board members to disregard plans to lengthen the school day by 20 minutes.

School officials worried they wouldn’t be able to find a plan that would make everyone happy—but they ended up getting applause when they voted on how to make up the snow days.

Students won’t have to attend school on Saturdays or during spring break. Nor will they stay in the classroom an extra 20 minutes for the rest of the school year.

Instead, the School Board voted to eliminate a teacher work day on April 4 and to make April 18 and May 23 full days instead of half days as originally scheduled. Elementary school students would also attend full school days on June 11 and 12, which were originally early release days for all students. Those days will remain early release days for middle school and high school students, who will take exams those days. June 13 will remain the last day of school and an early release day.

This option was available because the Stafford school day is already 20 minutes longer than state recommendations, said Rick Fitzgerald, director of human resources. Because of this, the school division had banked time to put toward makeup days.

While the vote drew applause, one School Board member joked that he was disappointed not to add Saturday school sessions.

“I was kind of looking forward to getting my kids out of the house on Saturdays,” Scott Hirons said.

The School Board meeting began while temperatures were in the 70s, but a frigid forecast is still in the future before spring arrives. If school is canceled for inclement weather again, the last day of school would most likely be moved to June 16 or 17.

But Fitzgerald hopes the inclement weather team wouldn’t be needed for the rest of the year.

“The phrase wintry mix, if I never hear that again, I’ll be a very happy man,” he said.

Spotsylvania County’s School Board voted Monday to lengthen students’ school days to make up for instructional time lost to the weather. Those longer days will start March 17, and the elementary school day would end at 3:50 p.m., middle school at 3:10 p.m. and high school at 2:45 p.m.

 

Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973 aumble@freelancestar.com

 

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