Liberty County students will make up at least one of five days missed for the August eclipse and Hurricane Irma, and school officials are looking for feedback on when to do it.
The system didn’t hold classes Aug. 21 for the eclipse, and Sept. 8-13 because of Hurricane Irma.
Liberty County School System is a charter district, which gives it flexibility, and it is not required to make up those five days, Interim Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry said, but the same does not apply to the Pre-K center, which can only miss four days a year.
The state sent an email to LCSS saying the Pre-K center will have to make up a day, and officials have decided the rest of the district’s students will make up the day as well.
Perry asked board members for their thoughts and said he will ask the schools for feedback on when to make up the day or if teachers feel it needs to be more than one day.
Last year, Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Hermine closed schools for five days. Two of those five days were made up at the start of the system’s Christmas break.
“We have several choices and that could be during the Thanksgiving or during Christmas,” Perry said. “I looked at last year when you did that and of course there was a lot of absences because I think people had already made some plans for those days.”
Absences count against the district’s College and Career Ready Preparation Index score, Perry said.
Board member Marcus Scott IV wondered why Georgia’s state of emergency for the hurricane didn’t override the requirement for Pre-K. Perry said it’s the rule, regardless of the weather.
The sentiment among board members was for the district to make up at least one day.
Scott suggested using an upcoming teacher workday scheduled Oct. 9-10.
Member Carolyn Smith Carter agreed with Scott. She emphasized not using days from the winter break, saying little learning or teaching happens during the week leading up to the holidays.
“I like the idea of considering the teacher workdays because usually parents, when they make reservations, the earlier they make them the cheaper the accommodations,” Carter said. “I think they (teachers) may want to do that and leave the holidays alone. If we have more inclement days then we’ll just do it one day at a time. My thing is we’ll miss more than five days if we tap into the holidays. When you start tapping into the holidays they’re going to miss anyway.”
Chairwoman Lily Baker told the board to keep in mind that Oct. 9 is Columbus Day and military families may go on vacation.
Board member Verdell Jones didn’t want students to suffer academically from missing days of instruction.
Perry will ask for feedback from the schools and give a recommendation to the board at the next regular meeting Oct. 10.