KANAWHA | The West Hancock School Board has set the 2018-2019 school calendar, and students and parents will likely notice little change from this year.

On Monday, Dec. 18, Superintendent Wayne Kronemann presented the school board with two calendar options that were created by a 10-member committee comprising himself, Elementary Principal Michelle DeHart and eight teachers and coaches this fall.

“The only difference between them is the comp day in November where it’s placed,” Kronemann said during a public hearing held before the regular meeting to discuss the calendar at the West Hancock Middle School in Kanawha.

The first calendar option contained a staff in-service day on Nov. 2, 2018, after parent-teacher conferences on Oct. 29 and Nov. 1, and a comp day on Nov. 21, which gives students — and staff — a five-day weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday.

In the second calendar option, the comp day was scheduled for Nov. 2, 2018, and the staff in-service was Nov. 21 ahead of Thanksgiving.

Kronemann said the first calendar option is similar to the 2017-2018 school calendar, which staff had an in-service after conferences and a comp day before Thanksgiving break.

The two options were presented to the district’s 100-plus staff, and 45 voted for the first option, four voted for the second and the remaining didn’t vote at all, he said.

“We waited to do voting ‘til after this year’s comp day, and I had three or four elementary paras walk in and say they loved it like we did it this year,” Kronemann said.

The school board unanimously approved the first calendar option after discussion during the public hearing and regular meeting about the district’s start date and spring break, which were both topics posed by new school board member Angie Johnson.

Johnson asked board members and administration why the district, again, planned to start the 2018-2019 school year on a Friday.

“We did that this year and there was a lot of questions about starting on a Friday … but there was actually a lot of benefit to it because we’re going through a lot of the classroom routines and things (on Friday), and Monday we dug into a lot more instruction,” DeHart said. “It didn’t turn out as bad as we were kind of wondering.”

According to the 2018-2019 approved calendar, the high school will start on Thursday, Aug. 23, which is the earliest an Iowa school district may start under state mandate, while the elementary and middle schools will start on Friday, Aug. 24.

Starting on Friday, Kronemann, said allows the district to end school earlier. The last day of school is May, 23, 2019.

This year, the school district had its first week-long spring break in a long time, but School Board Vice President Ryan Hiscocks said it was added for the 2017-2018 school year to appease individuals who expressed a desire for it ahead of the school board’s decision.

“Spring break was one of the issues people were more for than against,” he said.

Kronemann said spring break is usually held around Easter, but depending on where it falls in the calendar year dictates what is recommended to the board due to its proximity to the end of the year, testing and other factors.

The approved 2018-2019 school calendar contains an April 10 to 12 spring break, and no school on Good Friday, which is April 19.

Johnson expressed interest in having the Monday after Easter off for students and staff, but Hiscocks, and others, said the more days the district takes off throughout the year, the later school ends.

Winter break for the 2018-2019 school year will be Dec. 22 to Jan. 1.

“Historically, we’ve had pretty lengthy debates on the calendar, and I think it’s good that we have good representation on the committee,” said School Board President Ryan Johnson.

Also during the Dec. 18 meeting:

  • Board President Ryan Johnson read a thank-you letter from the city of Britt for the district’s $20,000 donation from its Public Education and Recreation Levy, or PERL, fund, which can only be used to establish and maintain public recreation places and playgrounds within the district, for the Lions Park playground project.
  • Kronemann announced the school district received a $20,000 rebate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus program to put toward the purchase of a new diesel school bus. A stipulation for the grant is that the district must remove one old school bus (2006 or older that’s used 10,000 miles a year or at least three days during the week) from its fleet and permanently disable the engine.
  • Activities Director Steve Lansing, High School Principal Dan Peterson and Kronemann spoke about the shortage of sports officials across the state, and how it may impact the district in the future.
  • Kronemann announced the children of the late Jim Pals, Nicole Stoeller and Joel Pals, are donating $20,000 to the school district in his memory. Jim Pals was a former West Hancock High School English teacher and speech coach who died in December 2016. Kronemann said the funds would likely be reserved for “a teacher grant system,” which would allow staff within the district to apply for grants to classroom, extracurricular activity or athletic programs. He said the details are still being finalized.

Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.