District might end intercession next year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Intercession days are not on the Vicksburg Warren School District calendar proposed for next school year, perhaps signalling an end to two years of offering lagging students extra help during the academic year instead of only in summer sessions.

The district’s trustees will discuss the calendar for 2010-2011 at their regular meeting Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the district offices, 1500 Mission 66.

Superintendent Dr. James Price has said in recent weeks that many students eligible for the extra help sessions, set after each nine-week period to boost students’ mastery of benchmark skills, have not been taking advantage of the opportunity.

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“If the students are not coming, it’s not worth spending the money on it,” Price said before last month’s intercession period. “Money is tight and is going to continue to be.”

Price said the board is expected to vote on his proposed calendar.

Intercession, which is free, was approved by the trustees about two years ago. The plan was to invite failing students to attend and pay teachers an added stipend to help the students be ready to move ahead with new material in the following nine-week period. Students not failing could stay home or, in some cases, attend for enrichment activities. Another plus could have been eliminating the need for summer school, which costs parents $195 in the elementary grades.

Last year, however, summer school was still needed for about 43 elementary students and several hundred junior high- and high-schoolers.

In January’s intercession, about 800 students in grades 3 through 6, or 30 percent of the approximate 2,800 total, were invited to attend intercession. Fewer than half that number, 384, attended the first day.

For the remainder of the school year, intercession periods listed on the district’s Web site are March 15-17 and June 1-4. Price said today the June intercession will not be held, and he will recommend at the board meeting that the March session be compressed to two days so a make-up day, following Friday’s cancellation due to snow, can be scheduled for all students March 17.

In 2009, intercession days were scheduled after the last nine weeks, but were not conducted.

Summer school will be held this year, Price said. Dates will be announced later.

The proposed calendar for the 2010-11 year has school starting Aug. 5 and ending May 20, 2011. It includes a week of vacation at Thanksgiving and early in March, two weeks off at Christmas and six holidays — Labor Day, Sept. 6; Columbus Day, Oct. 11; Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 17; Presidents Day, Feb. 21; and Good Friday and the day after Easter, April 22 and 25. Two days, Dec. 17 and May 20, are 60 percent days.

Price said he does not favor a bill introduced annually in the Mississippi House prohibiting the start of school before the fourth Monday in August.

The state currently allows local school boards to set the first day of school, but requires a 180-day calendar.

Contact Pamela Hitchins at phitchins@vicksburgpost.com