At 5:00 PM on April 18th, the Jenks Board of Education met to discuss a solution to the missed days of school due to the Oklahoma Teacher Walkout.
The boardroom was quiet at 4:55PM, only the soft conversations of the few members in attendance could be heard. In contrast to the usual full room of chairs set up for board meetings, only four rows were made available today. After making my way past a large news camera pointed toward the front of the room, I went to take my seat.
I looked at the agenda I picked up before entering the room, and with only one topic to be discussed, I knew this would be a short meeting. The meeting was brought to order, roll was called, the Pledge of Allegiance was said and then the board moved to Item V: discuss a solution to the days of school missed between April 2nd and April 13th. Jenks Superintendent Dr. Stacey Butterfield spoke first on the matter.
“We are now in a position with the end of the teacher walkout that we are providing a proposal on how to finish out the school year. The proposal you have in front of you includes adding 30 minutes per school day, 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon beginning Monday, April 23, and concluding the last day of school which will be Monday, June 4th.” said Butterfield.
Further questions were directed towards Associate Superintendent Dr. Lisa Muller. Muller spoke to the Board on how the proposal on the table would allow us to reach the required time Jenks schools must be in session per year.
“You [The Board] took action earlier in the year to determine meeting our requirements from the state via hours versus via days… We must be in attendance for at least 1080 hours to complete the requirement for funding from the state,” said Muller. “We had already built in the 5 days for potential weather which we had not used, so the first five days [of the walkout] were already accounted for in our existing calendar.”
By spending our unused snow days towards the walkout, we now only have to make up for 30 hours of lost instructional time as opposed to the 60 we actually missed. However the lost time could not be made up by simply adding minutes on to the school day.
“If we miss days in the winter because of ice or snow, we have all the way from February through the end of the year to make that up,” says Muller. “In this case we’re on a much more abbreviated time period, so that’s why the proposal is to add two days along with adding the 30 minutes per day between next week and the end of the school year.”
Vice President of the Board, Chuck Forbes moved to approve the proposal and was quickly seconded. Voting began and Item V passed with a unanimous decision by the members of the Board.
I was able to speak to Forbes after the meeting about what variables were considered prior to the making of this proposal.
“The administration took into account all aspects and all facets between bus schedule to equity toward all the campuses. We can’t have 5th and 6th graders getting on the bus at 6:00AM to be at school at 7:15AM,” said Forbes. “The easiest thing to do was add 15 minutes; before and after, and add the two days because we’re in a short amount of time.”
Starting Monday, April 23rd, Jenks High School will be starting at 9:00 AM and ending at 4:10 PM. Bus pickup and drop off times will simply be 15 minutes earlier in the morning and 15 minutes later in the afternoon. This schedule will be in effect until the last day of school, Monday, June 4th.