By the conclusion of their workshop March 7, Flagler school board members ended up pretty much where they began in weighing options for the 2017-18 schools calendar: deciding between a 179-day and a 180-day calendar.
A potential change to the calendar -- which would decrease the current number of school days by one, and adjust bell times at all the Flagler schools -- was tabled at the board's Feb. 21 meeting after the board (absent one member) failed to reach a quorum to approve the resolution.
At that meeting, the board voted 2-2 to reject the recommendation of Schools Superintendent Jacob Oliva to adopt a 179-day calendar which would have added 15 minutes to the school day of middle and high school students and pushed the start and end times back 10 minutes at elementary schools. A 179-day calendar option was studied by board committee to build in potential buffer time should there be any emergency closures like those experienced with Hurricane Matthew last fall. It was that committee's recommendation, and Oliva's, that the change be made.
But at the Feb. 21 meeting, board member Andy Dance said he was uncomfortable in voting for the change at that point because, according to Dance, the district had not done enough to publicize the calendar, particularly what the exact drop off and pick up times at each school would be.
Without the required majority (school board member Colleen Conklin was absent from the meeting), the motion failed to pass, with board member Janet McDonald voting against the measure along with Dance, saying she believed the issue needed more discussion.
Stressing administrators and faculty were already two months behind in having an official calendar to plan next year's school year, at the March 7 work session Oliva urged board members to take action, even if it meant continuing the current 180-day calendar forward another year. That, he said, might actually make sense considering the district is also examining the issue of rezoning, which could affect busing routes, just as a change to the length of the school day could.
At the workshop, Dance said he supported the idea of the altered calendar but wanted to make sure there was enough consensus among fellow board members before moving it forward again.
Conklin said one issue she was concerned with was the idea of a later release time for elementary students.
"With athletics, activities and homework, what I'm hearing from parents is there's no family time," said Conklin.
School board chair Trevor Tucker respectfully disagreed, saying he believed classroom instruction trumped extracurriculars.
The board will pick up the discussion again at its next meeting, March 21, where it will consider both calendar options for 2017-18. The district will post on its website each of the draft calendars, as well as the adjusted start and end times at each school, including the actual times parents can drop off students in the morning with supervision before class begins.