The Elmore County Board of Education approved the 2018-2019 academic calendar with accommodations made for days lost due to severe weather and yearlong maintenance for school lawns, versus their current eight-month plan.

Elmore County Board of Education Chairman Michael Morgan opened the meeting last week and Superintendent Richard Dennis spoke first about the 2018-2019 school calendar at the Jan. 24 meeting.

In developing the calendar, Dennis said concerns about lost class time due to early-January snow and ice storms caused him to revisit it.

Dennis said he formed a committee made up of members from different schools, age groups and administration and tasked them with coming up with a solution to account for lost class days.

“We have lost four days this year to inclement weather. We’re under right now, under 169 participation days, student attendance days, if we stay on track right now,” said Dennis.

He said the Alabama Department of Education requires 180 days or 1,080 clock hours each year.

“The factor that I see as a concern and I know others in education have, would be the fact that we’re losing instructional time, that significant amount of instructional time,” said Dennis. “… And so in doing, so I basically went back and included, took five days of professional development and created student participation days.”

Board member Mark Nelson asked if they would be held accountable for the missed school days given the state of emergencies that came with the mid-January severe weather.

Dennis said only academically, which he said mattered.

“I have more than just a few teachers that say that it does, I say ultimately if your not accounting for those I think it is a problem,” Dennis said.

The calendar adopted included 178 student days to 187 teacher days.

The listed quarter dates were: first quarter, Aug. 7 – Oct. 5; second quarter, Oct. 10 – Dec. 20; third quarter, Jan. 8 – March 8; fourth quarter, March 11 – May 22.

Chief Financial Officer Jason Mann made a presentation about the lawn maintenance of the individual schools and what he said was a way to absorb their expenses at low cost to the central office for year-round service.

He said the schools spent $25,000 last year for eight months of lawn care.

“We need these schools to look as good as they can as long as they can. Why not do it all year? We can afford to do it at a very minimal cost to us and then create savings to them,” said Mann. “If we would’ve taken the current contracts that were there last year and stretched them to 12 months, it would have been $144,000.”

However with the new bids he was proposing at the meeting, he said there would be “a total system savings of $37,000,” including the $25,000 from local schools.

Ultimately the board approved four bids from three local lawn care companies – Clean Cut Property, Rok Solid Inc. and Total Lawn Maintenance – at a total listed cost of $131,614.