Officials with Deer Creek and Putnam City school districts announced Thursday morning their school years will be shortened.
Deer Creek School District
The Deer Creek Board of Education voted at the April 21 board meeting to change the last day of school from May 20, 2016 to May 17, 2016. In an effort to conserve funds, the District has decided to have a complete shutdown of all sites and facilities with no staff or students on campus May 19 and 20.
Deer Creek officials said all staff will report to work on Wednesday, May 18 to receive required training as the district will be converting from PowerSchool to Infinite Campus in the fall of 2016.
“Taking the time to train our staff on May 18 will help alleviate additional time and expense in the fall that would include substitute teacher costs needed to get all staff appropriately trained in our new student data system”, stated Lenis DeRieux, Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer.
The District received permission in the fall from the State Department of Education that instruction time be calculated by hours in lieu of days. This allowed the District to have approximately eight days of potential inclement weather to miss school without having to require students to return to school after the original last day.
Ranet Tippens, Superintendent, released the following statement,
“We feel confident that we will be able to withstand the anticipated budget cuts due to conservative budgeting and an increase of student population. However, we feel it is important to continue to find ways to conserve funding as much as possible. By shortening the school calendar by two days, training staff on May 18th and closing down all sites and facilities for two days, the district saves in energy, utilities, transportation and substitute teacher costs.
The Board of Education stated that ending school 3 days early this year, does not set a precedent for years to come. “We will assess the status of student attendance and hours annually”, John Robertson, Board President stated. Robertson also stated “We are very concerned about the short and long-term impact state budget cuts and we must take every opportunity to allocate our resources wisely”.
Putnam City School District
Meanwhile, the school year for Putnam City students is being shortened by two days in order to provide training for teachers on new state educational standards that will be in place next year. Officials said the change means the last day of school for students will be Friday, May 20, instead of Tuesday, May 24.
New standards for teaching English Language Arts and mathematics were adopted by the state in late March. The standards are the basis for what teachers teach, what students learn and what is on state standardized tests that students take. Putnam City school officials said originally the plan was to begin testing students on learning related to new standards in the spring of 2018 – two years from now. With that plan, teachers would have been trained on new standards next school year. However, recently the State Department of Education announced they were accelerating testing on new standards to the spring of 2017 – just one year from now. That means when school begins in August, teachers must right away offer classroom instruction that matches new standards and is engaging and effective for students.
Training for teachers on Monday, May 23, and Tuesday, May 24, will also be about new science standards, planning for 7th-grade and 8th-grade instruction and other district initiatives. All training is designed to better help teachers teach and students learn.