I know many of you and members of our community have questions relating to the impact our snowy winter may have on the last day of school. There is much confusion about the rules and regulations that govern school calendars across the state. The main confusion comes from the fact that school/district calendars are annually approved first, by local school boards and then by the Department of Education. After the original calendar approval, any changes are amended locally and then forwarded to the state for final amendment approval. School districts across the state have different calendar needs making it very difficult to compare one district calendar to another. With that said, there are some regulations that make the basics of school calendars similar. Currently, school calendars are approved by the state when a minimum of 170 school days and a minimum of 1062 instructional hours are obtained.
Rockcastle County School’s calendar for this year provides 172 school days for students and we far exceed the minimum 1062 instructional hours. I have been asked many times by members of our community why we are not adding minutes to our days in order to make up days missed due to weather related issues. We exceed the number of instructional minutes currently allowing us to remove two of the 172 instructional days in our calendar. Removing two more instructional days would put us at the 170 instructional day limit with time already banked or already completed. Extending our school day and banking more minutes will not help us unless legislation removes the 170 school day minimum. We will already be at the 170 student days based on this banked time when we make a final calendar amendment.
When you hear other school districts making decisions to extend the school day in order to make up time missed, those districts are making up time that Rockcastle County Schools has already accumulated in the original calendar. Most school districts have a 175 instructional day calendar giving them 5 days to play with by extending minutes to a day. No district (with a regular school calendar) is allowed by statute to go less than 170 (minimum of 6 hours) instructional days no matter how long they go to school each day. We need for legislation to remove the 170 day minimum for this school year in order to have any options with our current calendar and take advantage of any previously accumulated banked time.
We are currently monitoring daily activity by legislative committees in both chambers, communicating with House and Senate leadership, as well as having daily communication with the Kentucky Department of Education to obtain information about what options we may have concerning our calendar. When/if legislators come to an agreement on any changes to current legislation we plan to utilize any option/s that will aid us in putting together an amended calendar that maximizes instructional opportunities for students and best accommodates the interest of families and staff.
David A. Pensol, Superintendent
Rockcastle County Schools