By Nate Smith
---- — The Washington School Board unanimously voted Thursday to extend the school day for three weeks to make up for snow days.
Starting Monday, Washington students will have school starting at 7:40 a.m. for the high school and 7:50 a.m. for the elementary school.
School will then end at 3:40 p.m. for elementary students and 3:55 p.m. at the junior and senior high schools. The extended days will last until March 18, weather permitting. Good Friday on April 18, usually a holiday for Washington schools, will also be used for a makeup day.
Superintendent Daniel Roach told board members the extended days will make up three snow days and keep Washington schools back on a dismissal date of May 23. Without the hours, school would have ended on May 30, provided there aren't any more snow days.
Much of the extra time, Roach said, will be used for preparation for upcoming I-READ3, ISTEP and end-of-course assessment testing.
"We have not had a solid week since going on four months," Roach said. "It's just been an unusual year."
If there is a delay for weather, Roach said, school would be on a normal schedule that day but an extra extended day would have to be added.
"We know from even a couple days ago, we can't seem to get a break with what is happening this year," Roach said.
A phone survey was sent to Washington school parents and staff members. According to numbers from the school, 1,098 people participated in the survey, 71 percent of those surveyed were parents. Of those surveyed, 76 percent were in favor of using extended school days and the Good Friday holiday.
Board members conceded Thursday it was a tough decision to make.
"There's no easy answer for it," Board President Steve Frette said.
"I don't think anyone wants to go (to school) in June," Board member Randy Bouchie said.
According to a school voice call earlier in the day, buses will pick up students five minutes earler in the morning.
Although the state has given Washington schools three waiver days for the November 2013 tornado and two sub-zero days, the system is forced, like many schools across the state, to figure out ways to make up the days. The state mandates that students attend school for 180 days, but gave schools options to make up days by extending school hours or using Saturday school.
Washington joins North Daviess in extending school days.
Lena Dunn update
Lena Dunn Elementary Principal Brenda Butcher updated the board on ongoing curriculum changes at the school. Part of those changes includes a new program helping parents with their child's education.
Part of that program involves evening classes and surveys on how to read with children and teach vocabulary and understanding. Butcher said much of the outreach is a way to give back to the community.
"We really felt like we needed to give back to parents and the community, and how can we be part of it," Butcher said.
The pilot program is being shown to area superintendents and principals.
The board accepted the following retirements: Nancy Adams, junior high music teacher; Sandy Williams, high school secretary; Paul "Rudy" Edwards, maintenance; and Judy Riney, Lena Dunn Head Cook. The board accepted the resignation of high school Spanish teacher David Lennen. Lennen retired two years ago but was asked to return. Teacher Amanda Salters was granted medical leave from March 27 to May 12.
The following appointments were also accepted: Allison Jochum, junior high school guidance counselor; Kristin Allison, high school assistant track coach; Tim Baxter, junior high boys track coach; Brittany Derr, junior high girls track coach; Chris Moody, high school assistant boys track coach; Erika Taber, junior high girls assistant track coach; and Cheryl Syck and Tracy Bieker, Griffith part-time cooks.