SH considers instructional hours vs. days

JEWELL – Following the trend set by many other Iowa schools, on Monday evening South Hamilton school board members voted to adopt the instructional hours method of counting school days.

Rather than the traditional 180 days in a school year, which is still an option, a school year would require 1,080 hours. Most schools are going with the hours method of counting school days because to qualify as a full day, it has to include six instructional hours. If a day is shortened because of an early out or late start for weather, then that day doesn’t count as an official school day because it is shorter than six hours.

There will be a public hearing on the issue at the February school board meeting. School districts have until March 1 to notify the Department of Education which method they will use, instructional hours or days.

In another calendar matter, the board reviewed two proposed calendars for the 2014-15 school year, one with a start date of Aug. 14, and the other with a start date of Aug. 19. Further action was tabled until the February board meeting.

Superintendent Tim Johnson reported to the board that he met with the facilities committee on Jan. 8. On Jan. 30, an informational meeting open to the public will be held to identify areas in the school for improvements, code violations etc. Details will be publicized about the meeting.

In a related matter, Mark Thiessen of Angelo Architectural Associates of Urbandale was at Monday’s meeting to discuss the contract between the school and his firm. The board directed Superintendent Tim Johnson to work with Thiessen and school attorney Rick Engel on the details of the contract. Thiessen plans to meet again with the board on Thursday in a meeting geared toward the project.

In his report to the board, Principal Paul Hemphill told the board that elementary students donated 1,770 items to the Lord’s Cupboard food pantry in December, with the staff giving $400 cash as well. Hemphill is planning to schedule an ALICE training (dealing with intruder alerts) for school staff in February. He also distributed articles relating to the school’s mission statement.

Athletic Director Todd Coy was at the meeting to review the weight program supervision. He had information on how other conference schools staff weight rooms. At South Hamilton, the weight room is open mornings before school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays and every day after school.

Also on Monday, there was a hearing on the early start date for school. With no objections, the board approved starting school prior to Aug. 25.