SIDNEY — The adoption of the 2017-18 school calender was one of the final actions of the 2016 year taken when the Sidney City Schools Board of Education met Monday night.
The labor management council, said Superintendent John Scheu, is composed of 15 people from the district’s administration and staff.
“We sent a survey to the staff last year to get input from the people,” said Scheu. “Seventy percent of them wanted a week-long spring break. That will reduce our Christmas break but we’ll still be done before Memorial Day.”
New teacher orientation is planned for Aug. 15, 2017, with teacher work days set for Aug. 16-18. Open houses at the elementary schools, the high school and alternative school will be held Aug. 17. Sidney Middle School open house will be Aug. 14.
The first student day will be Monday, Aug. 21. A staggered start for the kindergarten students will be held Aug. 21-23.
Thanksgiving break will be Nov. 22-24. The winter break will be Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, to Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. Spring/Easter break will be held March 26-30, 2018.
The last day of school for students will be Thursday, May 24, 2018, and it will be an two-hour early release day. Graduation will be held May 26, 2018.
Early dismissals are planned for teacher training programs. The two-hour early dismissals will be on Sept. 8 and 22, Oct. 26, Dec. 15, Feb. 16, March 2, May 18 and 24. Curriculum Director Brooke Gessler said the programs are mandatory for all teachers to attend.
Gessler said the English/language arts testing will be done during a four week window in March. After that testing is completed, then the science, social studies and math teaching will be completed in another four week window. She said it usually takes three weeks for all the students to be tested in each area.
This year, she said, the state is making it mandatory that all students take the tests online. The district counted how many Chrome books are available for students and the state “determined we have enough to get it done online,” said Gessler.
She said additional headphones, along with mouses for the computers, will need to be purchased.
“We want to make sure it’s (testing) is comfortable for the kids,” said Gessler.
Board member Bob Smith questioned ending the school year before Memorial Day, citing the summer learning slide that many students encounter.
“Isn’t it better to go longer so the summer break is shorter?” asked Smith.
“The administrators agree with you,” said Scheu. “Some feel it makes more sense to go to school 12 months a year with a couple of week breaks between (each nine weeks).”
“Teachers who are part of the tested areas know their evaluations are tied to that (testing),” said Sidney High School Principal Jon Geuy. “You have no idea the amount of pressure there is on the teachers’ shoulders to get the students to pass the (state required) tests.”
“It seems our focus is on the test and not educating the students. I have a philosophical disagreement with that,” said Smith. “Our focus shouldn’t be on maximizing the tests but educating the students.”
Gessler said the test scores are important and that they are “a small snapshot of what our teachers do on a daily basis. Our teachers have anxieties (about testing) and what the students in the door so they can start learning.”
Gessler said it would be nice if every district in the state started at the same time.
“We need to monitor what the state is putting us through,” said Board President Bill Ankney, “We are teaching for the test. Once the test is taken, the work is completed. We are teaching to the test whether we like it or not.”
Gessler was questioned about how the students perform during the hot days of August when school is in session.
She said, especially for the younger students, the hot days are a challenge. So the teachers “hit it harder in the mornings,” she said.
Smith told the board that one of the pieces of legislation he’s following, calls for school districts to open for the school year after Labor Day and not in August.
The tentative calendar for the 2018-19 school year was also approved.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.