CAMERON - Despite the protest of some parents in the area, schools in Cameron again this year are operating on a modified calendar.
The calendar was first presented in 2009 when Cameron elementary Principal Wendy Clutter and high school Principal Jack Cain secured a state Innovation Zone Grant to begin implementing the calendar, which aimed to shorten the breaks over a traditional school year. The grant, which provided up to $50,000 for the information gathering process, also gave the schools the freedom to try the calendar for a two-year period.
The concept of the modified school calendar has been around for a while, as Kanawha County began using one more than a decade ago. That calendar has students in school for nine weeks followed by three weeks off. An optional "intersession" week is part of the three weeks off which allows students to get caught up on work or get ahead. The fourth is followed by a five-week summer break.
Photos by Sarah Harmon
Students at Cameron High School arrive for the first day of school Aug. 1. The school, along with Cameron Elementary, operate on a modified calendar, different from the rest of Marshall County.
Cameron's calendar follows the same principle, choosing shorter breaks throughout the year over an extended summer vacation. Those breaks were created with the needs of the community in mind, with breaks for fall hunting season and winter gaps for potential bad weather days.
Since being implemented, school officials said attendance and classroom participation have improved and disciplinary issues have decreased. Additionally, participation in extracurricular activities has increased as students who formerly had problems with transportation to practices are now already at school to take part.
Despite the successes, a group of parents approached the Marshall County Board of Education earlier this year to voice concerns with the calendar.
During a May meeting of the board, about 40 individuals were on hand when the board approved the calendar for the 2013-14 school year. Board President Roger Lewicki and members Lori Kestner and Thomas Gilbert voted in favor of the modified calendar, while Beth Phillips opposed and John Miller abstained from voting.
For nearly an hour prior to the vote, Cameron residents gave a list of grievances regarding the calendar.
Some of the concerns included teachers having a more difficult time keeping students focused. Some also said it is more difficult to stay on schedule with the additional breaks.
Others pointed out that students who are involved in sports must continue practicing during their breaks to keep up with the season.
Cameron resident Sarah Burge, who led the group of parents in opposition of the calendar, told the board the calendar was making it impossible for her family to vacation together because of the shortened summer breaks.
After going behind closed doors for a second time to "call personnel individuals in," board members voted twice to approve the calendar after further discussion with residents.
With that approval, students in Cameron began classes Aug. 1.