Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - Updated: 9:57 AM
By Rachel Keller Collins
During last week’s Marshall County Board of Education meeting, attendance reports showed a downward trend for the time during which it seemed everyone had the flu, or at least a nasty, short-term illness.
Director of Pupil Personnel Ledonia Williamson said, “We have been hanging on; we’ve had the flu everywhere.”
Williamson reported the overall averages for the school district, comparing them with last year’s numbers. She said the fifth month attendance, Dec. 7-Jan. 16, was 94.67 percent, which was only down a little from last year’s 94.95 percent. She said the biggest difference was for the sixth month attendance, between Jan. 17-Feb. 13, which came in at 93.02 percent. Last year’s sixth month attendance was 95.28 percent.
“Marshall County High School almost killed us last week but they’re coming back, they’re okay,” she said.
Williamson said Monday the 13th, the high school’s attendance was at 93 percent, Tuesday the 14th it was up to 93.78 percent and Wednesday the 15th it was 93.25. Overall it was trending upward. However, she said, Wednesday the 15th while the high schoolers were returning, South Marshall Middle and Benton Elementary were taking their hits with 91 percent attendance rates.
“That’s what it’s done to us for the past week or two is hit different pods,” she said. “But the high school really took the brunt of it last week and they were in the low 80s for about three days. We were concerned.”
Williamson said she had a parent call last week who expressed concern about the illnesses being passed around and the potential for closing the school for a time to allow everyone to get well. She said even with the large number of students absent, there were still approximately 4,400 students attending whose parents would have to find alternative care if they were to shut the doors, something that had to be a consideration in the decision.
“Now it’s kind of bouncing around; one school goes down while the other is coming back up. But I’m hoping the worst of it is through,” she said. “I think we’re going to make it at the end with attendance. It may not be where I wanted it to be but it’s okay because the kids are getting better.”
Williamson also presented the 2017-18 school calendar, which the board approved. She said a team consisting of three administrators, three teachers and the president of the MCEA compile two calendars that are then sent out to the school personnel, who vote for their favorite version.
For the upcoming year, the first day of school for students is Aug. 10 and the last day for students is May 23. Fall break is Oct. 9-Oct. 13; Thanksgiving break is Nov. 22-24; Christmas break is Dec. 18-Jan. 1 but students don’t return until Jan. 3.; and Spring Break is April 2-April 6.
In other business, the board approved the first steps in the beginning phases of the Sharpe Elementary renovation project by approving the standard order of agreement with CMS Architects and allowing BFW (Bacon Farmer Workman) Engineering to begin geotechnical services, topographical surveys and boundary surveys.
Director of Facilities and Transportation Danny Davis said, “Since we are wanting to start site development as quickly as possible, what we need here is those geotechnical services. Before we start on those site improvements we want to make sure that we have our boundary surveys done as well as the topographical surveys. We need that investigation of the property done so that we know that we have a good place to put hopefully a new drive going in behind the building and around in a different way and coming back out.”