Go ahead. make your Thanksgiving week plans: the Flagler County school district’s week-long Thanksgiving vacation survived intact even though Hurricane Dorian caused schools to be closed three days last week. The make-up plan announced today will require only one day to be made up.
School spokesman Jason Wheeler in a release issued this afternoon explained that since the district’s school day was extended slightly two years ago, essentially adding minutes to each school day, thus accruing a few more days by the end of the year and exceeding the state’s requirement for minimum instructional time. That’s allowing the district to dip into that surplus to make up two of the three days, leaving one day to make up.
Flagler schools’ yearly calendar is set prior to each school year. Last year, the schedule allowed for a third day to be accumulated just from the extended school day. This year, the 2019-2020 school year began two days later than in 2018-2019. That loss of days means we only have two full days built in to our schedule. So those days are now used up.
But potential hurricane make-up days are also built into the schedule. In working on this year’s instructional calendar, Flagler Schools and its unions agreed the district would use Monday, October 14 as the first available hurricane make-up day. The day is marked as a Teacher Work Day.
The state Department of Education could yet approve waivers that allow districts not to make up days. but, the district said in its release, “since we are still in the height of hurricane season, the Florida Department of Education is refraining from making any decisions related to waivers for the loss of instructional hours until hurricane season concludes in November. Based on the standards set forth by the State Department of Education for a waiver request, we do not anticipate any such request would be approved.”
“It is important we make up the lost time in this first semester, so our high school students with block classes will have the most instructional time before their end-of-semester exams,” Superintendent Jim Tager says. However, he reminds everyone, “Should we need any further school closures from other weather events, we would need to utilize other days marked on our yearly calendar as hurricane make-up days.”
The loss of time from Hurricane Dorian also means progress reports for the first quarter have been pushed back a week, to September 17. The district is moving the period for parent-teacher conferences in elementary schools to the second quarter.
A weather system currently developing southeast of the Bahamas, and moving in Florida’s direction with as much uncertainty as Dorian did, has forecasters on guard, but the system’;s development into a tropical storm, or worse, is by no means assured, nor is its track: at the moment, it is expected to dump rain in the region over the weekend, but not cause further issues.
A School Board workshop scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sept. 3 as well as a special board meeting to set the final property tax rate and budget for 2019-20, originally scheduled for 5:15 pm.m. that day, were both postponed, as was a special Sept. 9 meeting to approve the 2018-19 annual financial report and cost report. All those meetings have been rescheduled and consolidated into two meetings on Sept. 17: The workshop will be combined with the scheduled 1 p.m. workshop on Tuesday, September 17. The financial and cost report meeting will be incorporated as an agenda item at the same 1 p.m. meeting. The property tax and budget meeting will be held later that day, at 5:15 p.m.