Wendy Benton

BENTON

The DuBois Area School District calendar may look a bit different in 2019-20 if approved as it is to be presented at Thursday’s board meeting.

“Historically, we have always started school on a Tuesday, and I would like to kind of break that tradition and start school on a Friday, which would be Aug. 23,” said substitute Superintendent Wendy Benton at last week’s work session. “That would be starting essentially two days earlier for students, which I’m hoping will help us in the long run of getting our instructional days in prior to testing and preventing us from going to school so long into the month of June.”

Benton said teachers would begin with their four in-service days that week before students start school on Friday.

“Thinking of our students primarily, the first day of school is a little nerve wracking ... so coming in for one day and then having a weekend, we think that’s a great way to encourage kids to come back,” said Benton.

Procedural information routines to which the first day is usually dedicated could be dealt with on Friday and then students would return on Monday with a full week of instruction, she said.

“As a former teacher, the first day gets a little bit crazy, and if you need some time to make any adjustments to your classroom or maybe you get a new student, you want to make sure you’re preparing,” said Benton. “It gives you the weekend to be making changes rather than feeling the pressure that you have to be ready to go the next day at seven. For parents and students, sometimes teachers request a certain type of supply, maybe a certain binder or a notebook or something. It gives students and their parents the weekend to go and get those supplies as well, rather than feeling like they have to go out and get them right away. So that’s really the rationale for starting a little earlier in August.”

Another proposed change to the calendar would be to have school on Monday, Dec. 23.

“A lot of other school districts are closed on this day and extending their holiday vacation,” said Benton. “I would really like to preserve the week of the 16th through the 20th for instruction and save all our holiday festivities for that Monday the twenty-third.”

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Benton noted that 56 percent of the district’s students qualify for free or reduced lunches.

“Looking at that would already be a nine-day vacation or holiday with school being closed, I see that as one more opportunity that we can feed those students two meals before they depart, and I just think we’ve had tremendous support from our community in providing food — and the Backpack and the Chomp Out Hunger programs — everything that we do to make sure these students have food when school is not in session and I see this as a great opportunity to really make a special day.”

The cafeteria director can provide “his special turkey dinner” to have a nice meal for the students that day, she said.

In April of 2020, the Monday after Easter, the elementary teachers asked her to consider having that as a snow make-up day, she said.

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