School calendar remains, for now

Unionville-Chadds Ford School District is, so far, maintaining its calendar with the end of classes and high school graduation staying as planned.

"At this point, our calendar has not changed," said Superintendent of Schools John Sanville during the March 23 School Board meeting that was conducted online via Zoom. "So, the last day of school and graduation, all those milestones from here to the last day of school are no different than when they were approved by the board originally."

Sanville added that the district would follow any updated advice from the governor or state Board of Education, with schools still scheduled to re-open on April 14. He said, though, that was based on the status as of 2 p.m.

"From a student perspective, from a family perspective, we'll be keeping our calendar close to what it is now," he said.

High school graduation remains scheduled for June 8, and the last day of classes for other students is June 10.

During the meeting, board members voted to form a committee to study the possible change in school start times for high school and middle school students. The committee would be considering moving the start time to at least 8:30 a.m.

Start times changed from 7:35 a.m. to 8 a.m. for those students during the 2017-2018 academic year following a previous study and recommendation.

During a discussion on whether the district could effectively do such a study while classes are currently being conducted remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanville said much of the work to provide the remote learning has been done and that enables the district to look ahead to other projects such as the committee to study a change in start times.

"At this point, I feel comfortable, knowing what I know about the situation before us, that we can do both," he said but added that if things change, he could come to the April meeting and say it's too much to take on right now.

Assistant Superintendent John Nolen, who headed the first committee to study the time change three years ago, said Monday night that the committee could get the task done in three to four months and could make a recommendation this coming November.

"We do have quite a bit of time built into the structure of the study," Nolen said. "We feel like we can get a lot of the legwork done relatively quickly, and then start out to plan out the feedback in regard to the different scenarios that we think are feasible."

In other actions, the board voted to spend more than $500,000 for some building maintenance.  The district will spend $197,000 for toilet room renovations at the high school, $238,000 to modernize the libraries and Hillendale and Chadds Ford Elementary schools, $13,000 for painting at CFES, and Unionville Elementary, and $86,000 for gym/café floor replacement at Hillendale.

In further response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board also voted to authorize Sanville to keep the district's hourly employees on current wages and benefits for at least another month. However, he is also allowed to furlough or demote personnel based on further developments and guidelines from the state.

"I can tell you from a furlough perspective, I have zero intent to furlough anyone, but I also have no idea what is potentially coming down the pike," Sanville said. "I have no intention to furlough anyone. I would not do that without action by the board."

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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