Intercession out next year|’Snow day’ classes will be held March 17

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 19, 2010

Public school trustees affirmed a 2010-11 calendar that scraps extra days for remediation that were offered last school year and this school year.

After meeting with principals of the 15 schools and getting their unanimous support, Vicksburg Warren School District Superintendent Dr. James Price recommended discontinuing the extra days that had been offered after each nine-week period.

With little discussion and no dissenting votes, trustees agreed to scrap “intercession” in approving the new calendar. Weekly benchmark tests and monitoring of student, teacher and school performance will remain in place, Price said. Summer school will also be offered.

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Zelmarine Murphy, the board’s longest-serving member, said she felt the district should not offer summer school with so many eligible students rejecting the intercession plan. The only member to comment before the vote, Murphy said she had “heavy concerns” in doing away with the intercessions, which had been “carefully planned and laid out.” She expressed disappointment at the lack of support by students and parents.

“Students would rather repeat the grade than attend intercession,” said Price, who initially proposed the model and won faculty endorsement for the modified calendar. The idea was to let lagging students catch up before introducing new material. Students making good progress would be out of school or in enrichment programs on intercession days.

Thursday, Price said given economic conditions he “could not in good conscience” recommend keeping intercession on the calendar.

“We are determined not to raise local millage rates to balance our budget,” he said, and without student participation and the support of parents and teachers, intercession is “not cost-effective.”

Price and other district officials are expecting to operate the 9,000-student countywide district on about $6 million less during the budget year that starts July 1. The new school year is set to begin Aug. 5.

The district has been receiving more money annually through local property taxes due to higher land values without increasing tax rates and trustees have elected repeatedly not to increase rates. Most of the operating money comes from the state, which has been reducing allocations and more cuts are expected in the new year. A reduction of $6 million would be almost 10 percent.

The 2010-2011 budget will be presented at the board’s March 25 meeting. A public hearing will be a few days before, with the date yet to be announced.

Interviewed separately Thursday, Jerry Boland, president of the board of trustees, said Price’s contract with the district will automatically roll over for an additional year, extending to June 30, 2011.

Price would have been notified by Feb. 1 if the board intended not to renew his contract, Boland said, and that notification did not occur.

The board also did not vote to extend the contract beyond the automatic one-year extension, Boland said. “Nothing should be read into that one way or the other,” he added.

Price became superintendent in 2003, succeeding Donald Oakes. In 2008 he was given a two-year contract extension along with a 12 percent salary increase. Price, who is paid $140,000 annually, has not had a salary increase since then, Boland said.

Contracts for all principals and other administrators in the district were extended for the next school year at the board’s Jan. 28 meeting.

Besides approving next year’s calendar, the board approved an adjustment to this year’s, scheduling a make-up day March 17 to replace the snow day last Friday.

March 17 was originally set as the final day of the March intercession period. All students will now be required to attend school that day.

Contact Pamela Hitchins at