The Dallastown Area school board unanimously approved its calendar for the 2014-15 school year Thursday, after a lengthy debate around the number of make-up days built into the schedule.
The debate started at the board meeting Jan. 16, when Superintendent Ron Dyer asked board members for feedback about the three make-up days listed in the proposed calendar.
Dyer referenced the current year's weather, saying it could be the start of a period of years when cancellations because of snow prolong the school year.
The board debated several options for the calendar, including turning to holidays such as Presidents Day in February as a potential make-up day.
But board member Kristin Phillips-Hill said holidays, especially the Presidents Day weekend, are often used by families for vacations booked far in advance. She advised against marking Presidents Day as a make-up option.
"This would cause great consternation among parents," she said.
Instead, the board amended the calendar by approving Jan. 2, 2015, as a potential make-up day, if students would miss school before the holiday break.
Board member Steven Bentzel said he was not comfortable approving the calendar without the additional make-up day, based on the feedback he had been getting from the community.
The approved calendar-at-a-glance shows the first day of school next year as Aug. 20 for ninth-graders, and Aug. 21 for all students. Three other make-up days are built into the calendar, including one in October and two in the second semester. The last day of school is tentatively scheduled for June 4, 2015.
Board President Kenneth "Butch" Potter said at the meeting Jan. 16 he thought the debate over the calendar was because of the large number of cancellations in the current school year.
"I can't ever remember a calendar discussion lasting more than 30 seconds," Potter said.
Sue Heistand, another board member, said she believed the board should move forward with approving the calendar for the following year, saying the bad weather this year should not be the reason the board waits to approve the calendar.
"I think we need to step back from that and realize this is not a norm," Heistand said.
Heistand voted against the Jan. 2 make-up day. Board members Potter and Bill Lytle were not present for the Jan. 23 vote on either motion.
— Reach Nikelle Snader at email@example.com.