Tyrone may tweak school calendar

TYRONE – The Tyrone Area School Board will vote next week on tweaks to its 2013-14 calendar in response to a rash of snow days.

If the measures are approved, district administrators will apply to the state to have Aug. 23, 2013, be considered an Act 80 day, which would count as a day of instruction, instead of as a teacher in-service day. May 16 was previously scheduled as a teacher in-service exchange day but will instead be a regular in-service day, to make up teacher hours, said District Director of Curriculum and Instruction Leslie Estep.

An in-service exchange day wouldn’t bring most teachers into the school, Estep said, as the hours would already have been taken up through after-school activities like parent nights and parent-teacher conferences.

District Superintendent Cathy Harlow said administrators were looking at these options because they did not want to extend the school year.

“We’ve discussed this among the administration at length,” she said. “Not wanting to tack days onto the end maintains June 3 as the students’ last day.”

Pending approval, this will leave the district with 178 instructional days instead of the typical 179, Estep said.

Harlow said the Pennsylvania Department of Education alerted administrators to the fact that they could retroactively name an Act 80 Day to make up for some of the missed snow days.

Board members are also likely to approve the calendar for 2014-15, which incorporates some changes from years past, Estep said.

Classes will start on a Tuesday instead of a Monday, Estep said, which is a common practice among local districts. The first day of school is Aug. 26.

This will serve two benefits, she said. First, teachers will get a long weekend after two days of preparing for classes to begin. It will also make the first week back easier for parents and children, as they get back into the routine after summer vacation, Estep said.

“We think people like to have that long weekend to relax,” she said. “Families and students also like to not start on a Monday – a five-day week for the first week of school is often a very long week.”

Another change for next year’s school calendar is the addition of a longer weekend for Veterans Day, which is on a Tuesday this year, Estep said. She said the idea of adding another day off around Veterans Day has been thrown around “for a couple of years,” and became a reality in 2014 because of the date. She said it can be hard to go to school on a Monday, have a day off and then be back in the swing of things by Wednesday.

Estep said that the Monday before Veterans Day will be a teacher in-service day for parent-teacher conferences. The teachers will likely come in later in the day and stay into the evening to accommodate the work schedules of parents.

The rest of the calendar is pretty typical, she said.

Harlow said administrators mulled extensively over the best set-up for the coming year.

“Administrators have spent a lot of time studying what is the most effective use of our days,” she said.

Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.