Board of Education votes to add school days following walkout | News

The Stillwater Public Schools Board of Education voted Wednesday to increase the number of school days by three to make up for lost instruction time during the 10 days SPS students were out of school during the statewide teacher walkout.

Only Stillwater High and Stillwater Junior High needed additional time added to meet the 1,080-hour requirement that the district follows.

“Our thought was if we change the school calendar, we change it for all sites,” Superintendent Marc Moore said.

The board followed his lead and voted 4-0 to make changes to the academic calendar.

Students will now attend school on April 27, May 4 and conclude on May 25, just ahead of Memorial Day.

Stillwater High needed to make up nearly 18 hours and principal Uwe Gordon said there would have been too many repercussions to add minutes to the day and that adding three days worked well.

SJH, which was closed multiple days due to a gas leak in February, will be adding time to their school day beginning Thursday in order to reach the 1,080-hour requirement.

School will begin at 8:55 a.m. – five minutes early – and end at 4:27 p.m. – 37 minutes late. Their lunch time was shortened from 40 to 30 minutes.

“We are trying to keep things as normal as possible,” assistant principal Brian Warwick said.

The bell schedule will remain the same but students will be assigned a place to go from 3:50 p.m. to 4:27 p.m. for a study hall.

Warwick said the study hall could be used for homework, to help students struggling in certain subject matter or to help prepare eighth-graders for state testing, which is scheduled this week and next.

Most Stillwater teachers returned to the classroom Monday after rallying for increased education funding at the state Capitol the previous two weeks.

Legislation was passed that gives teachers their largest pay raise in the states history, a $6,100 average increase, beginning next school year. Support staff received a $1,250 raise and roughly $70 million was secured for school funding.

Oklahoma Education Association declared the walkout over last Thursday, after nine days, but many educators were at the Capitol on Friday and a smaller contingent earlier this week.

Moore polled the teachers last Friday and found that many wanted to continue the walkout while many others were ready to return to the classroom.

“Initially 142 requested leave Monday,” Moore said. “But a lot of teachers ended up pulling their request and we had roughly 70 absent Monday.”

Students began state testing on Tuesday, two weeks late of the original start date.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced on April 9 that the Oklahoma School Testing Program schedule would be extended an additional week due to the teacher walkout.

The federally mandated tests, which are tied to school funding, require that 95 percent of students statewide take the tests.

Third- through eighth-graders and 11th-graders are those being tested.

Elementary, middle and junior high students doing pencil and paper testing have until April 27 to complete testing. Middle and junior high students doing online testing have until May 4 to finish up.

Stillwater High and Lincoln Academy juniors will begin their testing this week and wrap up ahead of the April 27 deadline.

Parents should make sure their children are “relaxed and well rested,” said Becky Szlichta, director of secondary education and district testing coordinator.

Twitter: @dbittonNP

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