The hypothetical is happening.
Beaufort County School District students will have school on two Saturdays to make up days missed from Tropical Storm Irma.
Unless the Beaufort County Board of Education, which controls the district’s calendar, decides differently, the designated makeup days will be Nov. 11 and Nov. 18, the first two Saturdays on the list.
Two schools, Hilton Head Island Elementary and Red Cedar Elementary, already shared the Nov. 11 and Nov. 18 makeup dates in Facebook posts. Another school, Okatie Elementary, sent an email blast to parents informing them of the days.
Last spring, the board designated only Saturdays as the potential makeup days for the first time since the 2013-14 school year. No staff or parent input was sought on the plan that included only Saturdays as designated makeup days.
A previous plan, which had the support of staff and parents in a district-wide survey, included two weekdays and one Saturday. Following scheduling issues stemming from Hurricane Matthew last fall, the board requested Superintendent Jeff Moss increase the number of makeup days to eight days, four in each semester. Moss’ new plan of eight Saturdays passed 7-2-1, with board members JoAnn Orischak and Joseph Dunkle voting against it and Patricia Felton-Montgomery abstaining.
Two principals told The Island Packet last month that selecting Saturdays as makeup days is a “non-issue.”
“It is a common practice around the state,” Battery Creek High School principal Chad Cox said.
Beaufort County School District is the only of the state’s 20 largest districts to rely entirely on Saturdays in the case of inclement weather, according to a review of 2017-18 academic calendars. The 19 other districts identified only weekdays as back-up dates.
For some parents, the “non-issue” is now a reality.
“Saturdays are family time,” said Lawrence Melton Jr., a father to two students at Okatie Elementary. He said his children likely wouldn’t attend the Saturday makeup days.
Students are allowed 10 unexcused absences for the school year.
Many high school students work on the weekends. So do teachers who work second jobs to supplement their incomes.
“I think the attendance on a Saturday is not going to be very high,” Bluffton parent Debbie Wyatt said.
South Carolina school districts have limited flexibility, particularly in the fall semester. State law dictates schools start no earlier than the third Monday of August, leaving little wiggle room to make up seat time without imposing on families’ Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations. The spring semester is a little easier when days can be tacked on to May or June.
“It’s never going to be a perfect solution,” district spokesman Jim Foster said.
Beaufort County School District’s 2017-18 Makeup Days
▪ Nov. 11, 2017
▪ Nov. 18, 2017
▪ Dec. 9, 2017
▪ Dec. 16, 2017
▪ March 3, 2018
▪ March 10, 2018
▪ April 21, 2018
▪ April 28, 2018