By Stefanie Jackson – During the public comment period of the Accomack school board meeting Tuesday night, board members heard an objection to their Feb. 15 decision to add a day to the current school year when nearly four of 10 inclement weather days remained available.
Connie Burford, of Bloxom, brought to the attention of the school board “several discrepancies” in the data that may have informed the decision to add time to the school calendar.
The school board previously had approved two-hour early dismissals on the third Friday of selected months for teacher work time. The original calendar for the 2021-2022 school year, approved April 20, 2021, had included two-hour early dismissals on Sept. 17, Oct. 15, and Feb. 18.
However, when the school calendar was later revised, the two-hour early dismissals were deducted from the school division’s inclement weather time, aka bank time, according to an Accomack County Public Schools document a parent had received through a Freedom of Information Act or FOIA request, Burford said.
The document also shows that on Dec. 1, 2021, two hours were deducted from the bank for an early dismissal for teacher work time, and four hours, 10 minutes, were deducted for a power outage.
“Which is it?” Burford asked. “We all know there was a power outage.” She noted that the two deductions totaled 6 hours and 10 minutes, an entire school day, even though a partial school day was completed before the power outage and extra early dismissal.
“At my best estimate, we owe the bank at least eight hours – which is over a whole day, which is what was added into the school year,” Burford said.
She requested that each school board member “ask yourself, did we add that school day in because it was needed … ?”
Following the school board’s open session, Burford also criticized the school division for deleting the original 2021-2022 school calendar from its websites, making it impossible for a parent to compare the old and new calendars to discern the changes that had been made unless the parent had saved a copy of the old calendar.
Accomack’s 2021-2022 school year originally was set to end Thursday, June 9, but currently the last day of school is Friday, June 10.
Superintendent Chris Holland previously has noted that it’s normal to adjust the calendar as needed throughout the school year, and unused inclement weather days are “given back” to teachers and students at the end of the year.