School Board reviews proposed calendar for 2020-21 school year

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, Jan. 27 — Coordination with the Page Valley Fair became a key point once again during discussion of the school calendar.

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Innovation and AccountabilityEric Benson told school board members that he had met with Darrell Hulver, president of the Page Valley Fair Association, to discuss the first week of school.

The 2020-21 school year is projected to open on Monday, Aug. 24. For the second consecutive year, the school year will open the same week as the Page Valley Agricultural and Industrial Fair. However, the proposal for 12:30 p.m. releases each day seems to have eased tensions with the fair association.

The longtime tradition of starting school the week after the fair ended last year in an attempt to get standardized testing completed before the holiday break. The first semester still carries over to the new year.

“As far as testing before the break, we may need to consider that further,” Benson told members of the school board. “In some cases that worked out and in some others it didn’t work so well.”

Students who participate in 4-H and will be showing animals during fair week will once again be excused for any absences during that week.

School officials are still planning to schedule one day per month for professional training next year. Those professional days are typically based around a holiday, if possible. 

In November students will get two days off the week of the general election. That Monday will be reserved for parent-teacher conferences, while Election Day itself will be an additional day off, as several schools serve as polling locations. School officials wanted to break-up the two events, as larger turnouts are expected during presidential elections.

Christmas break at the end of 2020 will be a full two weeks. Benson noted that this year, Page County Public Schools was the only division in the region that did not give a full two weeks for the Christmas break.

While school officials had proposed “standardizing” the school calendar and making spring break fall on the last week of March each year, those plans were adjusted for next year’s calendar due an early Easter. While spring break would begin in the last days of March, it would carryover into April and include Good Friday and Easter Monday. School would let out on Friday, March 26, 2021 and reopen on Tuesday, April 6 under the proposed schedule.

The 175 days of instruction would officially end Friday, May 28, 2021. Due to the Memorial Day weekend that follows, school officials are proposing to change graduation dates as follows:

• Page County Technical Center — 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26, 2021

  • Luray High School — 7 p.m. Thursday, May 27, 2021
  • Page County high School — 7 p.m. Friday, May 28, 2021

Dr. Wendy Gonzales, superintendent of Page County Public Schools, told the school board members that the 2020-21 school calendar was developed by staff with the input of several groups to include teachers, parents and students.

“This has gone through a couple of changes based on feedback,” the superintendent said.

“And there was no shortage of opinions,” Benson added.

The draft proposal for the 2020-21 school calendar should be on the school board’s February agenda for final approval.

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