Local School Board Not Happy With State Mandate

The Crothersville School Board reluctantly approved the 2009-2010 calendar for Crothersville Community Schools last week after learning that a plan pushed by Gov. Mitch Daniels would eliminate teacher inservice and parent conferences during the school year.

Superintendent Terry Goodin said although next year’s calendar mirrors the district’s current calendar, teacher professional development days and parent-teacher conference days have been eliminated because of new Indiana Department of Education policies.

Las month state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett announced changes in policies designed to ensure students receive at least 180 days of instructional time each year, the minimum number required by state law. Beginning in the 2009-2010 school year, the state will no longer permit schools to use half-days for professional development activities within the 180 full instructional day requirement.

Additionally, parent-teacher conferences must be conducted outside of the 180-day requirement.

Goodin said the state school superintendent’s actions is at the behest of Gov. Daniels. “The governor is in favor of not having (parent-teacher conferences,” the local school superintendent said.

A one- or two-hour delay because of weather-related conditions, however, will still be considered an extraordinary circumstance. Such a school day would still be counted as an instructional day.

Crothersville School Board President Robert Spicer said he thinks parents and teachers are going to be confused that the local board cut back on parent-teacher conferences.

“It is not us,” said Spicer.

“That’s been a very important part of our curriculum because it gives the opportunity for parents to come in during school,” Goodin said, agreeing with Spicer. “The Department of Education decided that’s no longer the right policy, so we have to follow their policy.”

Goodin added that if the Indiana General Assembly changes the policy, the board can revise the calendar before the end of May, but he doesn’t think that is a possibility.

With the new policy, Goodin said parent-teacher conferences can still be held, but they have to be held outside of the school calendar.

“So we could have them on a Saturday or before or after school,” he said. “But you have to pay the teachers to come in and do that, any extra days they have to work.”

“It seems to me someone is missing something somewhere,” Spicer said, referring to the new policy.

“I agree. That’s just another situation where public education and government does not agree,” Goodin said. “It’s unfortunate. Hopefully they will see the error of their ways and next year maybe get those back.” Spicer asked if Goodin has heard of any schools coming up with creative ways of holding parent-teacher conferences.

“At this point there are a lot of little ideas floating around and of course they all cost money and time,” he said. “One idea is to hire subs for all the first-grade classes for a day and have parent-teacher conferences for them on that day. There is nothing that is going to be economically feasible for anybody.”

In other matters, the board approved an extension to a maternity leave for Sharon Markel to April 17 and approved hiring Drew Markel as the spring & summer weight training supervisor.