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School board decides on calendar

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By Mike Capshaw, Staff Writer

In its March 6 meeting, the Levy County School Board voted to pass one of the two proposed 2012-2013 school year calendars, 3-2. District 1-Bronson representative Cameron Asbell and District 3-Williston representative Robert Philpot both voted no on the calendar because no day off was allocated for the Suwanne River Fair Sale Day. Both Asbell and Philpot discussed the significance of the day to Levy County students and were concerned about absenteeism from students skipping school to attend the fair.
The calendar was made without knowledge of the fair's schedule for 2013. Chairman Paige Brookins (District 4-Chiefland) said it was the fair's responsibility to adjust their calendar to the school boards'. Although no day is currently scheduled to allow students off for the fair, the calendar can be adjusted in the future once the fair has put out their calendar.
Neither of the two proposed calendars allocated a day for the fair. Of the two, "Calendar B" was favored 402 votes to 129 by Levy County teachers. The overwhelming support of the teachers for the calendar was all the board needed to support their decision to take "Calendar B" over "Calendar A.”
Teachers were drawn to the Jan. 7 teacher planning day featured in "Calendar B". It allows teachers a day without students to prepare for the school year's second half once the students return from winter break on Jan 8. The only other significant difference between the two calendars is earlier start time for Spring Break. The 2013 Spring Break will begin for students on March 22 and they will return on April 1. Students will also have an early release day on March 21 and teachers will have half of a teacher work day to finalize the end of the third academic quarter, which ends the day before the break. "Calendar A" would have had moved Spring Break for students to begin on March 25 and have them return to school April 2.
While talks of the proposed calendar took up much of the meeting, the board also passed a change in policy to county code formally allowing Boy Scouts access to school facilities. It had been informal policy to allow scouts to use the facilities for years, but the board wanted to formally align codes with state mandates. Brookins described it as "a great idea" and the motion passed 5-0 without debate.
The board also commended the increased efforts in energy conservation in the schools. Since 2008, Levy County schools have decreased their energy consumption from over 3 million kilowatt-hours per year to nearly 2.5 million, a savings of over 19 percent.
During his regularly-alloted time to address the board and the state of the county schools Superintendent Robert Hastings again expressed concern about the amount of standardized testing mandated on Levy students. Hastings said students now face the prospect of 71 of their final 90 days in testing, describing it as "absolutely insane". He also expressed concern about the upcoming PERT tests for county 11th graders. A failing grade on the test could lead to mandated remediation classes, stripping students of elective options for their senior year.