EATON — Several parents spoke out against Eaton’s e-day policy in the event of a calamity day during the Board of Education’s meeting on Monday, Feb. 8.
Eaton is in year two of a three-year contract with the teacher’s union regarding e-days, which offer online lessons to make up for time missed in the classroom during snow days.
In the contract, during the first year of the policy the school did not use an e-day until after the fifth calamity day. In the current year, e-days began when the first snow day was issued.
Nichole Pierce, the Parent Teacher Organization President for Bruce Elementary, was the first person to address the board on this issue.
“We are here tonight to express parents’ dissatisfaction with this year’s calamity day policy,” she said. “This year, parents also had to face the difficulties of the e-day on day one. An e-day possesses a variety of problems – there are technology shortages in homes with multiple children or households with no internet. Some websites are not compatible with the household’s technology, some e-day lessons are sometimes not relevant to the school’s current studies, lessons can take over seven hours for some higher grades, and lessons are not independent for lower grades.”
Pierce, with the help of another PTO member, Ashley Wright, sent a survey to 150 elementary school parents. Out of the 150 surveyed, 94 percent of households were not satisfied with this year’s calamity day policy and 92 percent would prefer additional snow days where no make-up is required before an e-day is issued.
“Why is the policy so rigid? Parents want to return to last year’s calamity day policy,” she said. “However, if that is not possible, we need to know why, what is the purpose of e-days, and how do they benefit the school and the students?”
Other parents expressed similar concerns with the policy, with one parent commenting that teachers in the district are unapproachable on the matter and have left student’s feeling intimidated.
Her accounts on that particular issue were second-hand in nature, however.
Inconsistency in scoring, confusion on assignment explanations and wording, and time constraints were also issues brought up to the board.
It is worth mentioning that the school does allow two weeks for the assignments to be completed after a calamity day.
“I think another issue is that the e-days have come back-to-back and thus created more stress,” Board President Lisa Noble said. “We are certainly listening and taking notes here as a board and there will possibly be some tweaking of the concept of e-day lessons. But it is part of a negotiated three year agreement.”
Other members of the board echoed that same sentiment.
“I have been involved with the e-day lessons and I can certainly tell you that, as a teacher for 24 years with almost a masters degree, that some of these things were very interesting,” said Terry Parks. “That’s all I can tell you. Does that mean we can make some changes and do some things? I think we can take it under advisement but it would be whatever we decide to do would have to be in agreement with the teachers.”
Brian Pool, another board member, offered potential solutions to many of the concerns. He noted that in the district he teaches in, they offer open labs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays following e-days, where parents and students are allowed to come in and complete the assignment with the assistance from school staff members.
“I think what we are seeing is a dissatisfaction more with implementation,” he said. “That’s something we need to think about in our implementation schedule is what kind of support are we providing to parents during the regular school day. I personally am very in favor of e-days and think we need to make sure we are implementing it right and that all our staff are looking at the time constraints of not how long it would take them to do it, but how long it would take their slowest student to get it done.”
In other business, the board approved the calendar for the 2016-17 school year with a start date of Aug. 15 and discussed a change to graduation requirements. Starting with the class of 2019, students must accumulate 18 total points on their state test scores in order to qualify for graduation. They will also have the option to retake a test if they so choose.
The board also approved the following items:
•The retirement of Martha Allen and Terry Cross, both effective on June 1; the employment of Lindsey Baker (special education aide), Kristina Wade (RN Health Aide), and Krista Wheeler (special education aide), Abigail Hinson (musical instrumental director), Emily Dumler (girls head track coach), approval of volunteer swim coaches Tim Appledorn and Randy Titkemeyer, an agreement with Montgomery County ESC to provide seven additional days of gifted services, and an agreement with Sinclair Community College to provide college level courses to students under the College Credit Plus program starting in 2016-17 school year;
•The 2016-17 registration booklets. These are now available at Eaton’s Central Office at 306 Eaton Lewisburg Road.
The Eaton School Board meets on the second Monday of every month in the East Elementary cafeteria. Their next meeting is on March 14 at 6 p.m.