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Thursday, September 10th, 2009

District rolls out new 3-hour delay

By Margie Wuebker
NEW BREMEN - Mother Nature threw a foggy complication into the works Wednesday morning leading to delays and ultimate closures for many schools in Mercer and Auglaize counties.
However, officials in three Southwestern Auglaize County schools - New Bremen, Minster and New Knoxville - merely rolled out a new three-hour delay that worked as intended keeping classes in session.
"The plan worked well," New Bremen Superintendent Ann Harvey told board of education members Wednesday night. "The principals deserve kudos. They made this work and everyone hit the ground running. It turned out to be a good option."
Classes commenced at 11 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. with the school day extended by one hour from 3 to 4 p.m., meeting state requirements of five hours instructional time.
The board talked about implementing the three-hour option last year. However, with calamity days on the chopping block due to House Bill I, the decision was made to proceed. Other "Golden Triangle" schools concurred with Harvey, Minster Superintendent Gayl Ray and New Knoxville Superintendent Kim Waterman conferring as they drove the roads counting telephone poles to gauge the density.
"We always had five calamity days," Harvey said. "The number drops to three next year and ultimately there will be none."
Schools then will be required to make up all missed days.
A two-hour delay is fine when snow and ice complicate predawn travel, according to Harvey. However, fog typically becomes more dense as the morning progresses.
"We needed more than two hours," she added. "Without the option of going to three hours, we would have closed."
Another factor in the joint decision involves bus routes as the three districts host county special education classes, necessitating consistent calendars.
Athletic Director Gary Jones reported receiving a call from Delphos St. Johns school officials about the success of the delay and he expects more questions from other Midwest Athletic Conference schools.
In other action, the board:
• Approved several out-of-state field trips. Eight to 15 students are scheduled to attend the National FFA Convention Oct. 20-24 in Indianapolis while the music department received permission to pursue plans for an April 21-25 trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. The proposed trip, which provides educational opportunities for band and chorus members, replaces one to Virginia Beach, Va., that drew less-than-expected responses.
• Approved temporary appropriations including $10.44 million in estimated revenue and $10.28 million in anticipated expenditures. Treasurer Deb Meyer indicated general revenue is down 7 percent while general fund expenditures are down 2 percent.
• Learned district enrollment stands at 865 - 566 in grades K-8 and 299 in grades 9-12. This compares with 885 in 2008-2009 when K-8 students numbered 589 and high school totals stood at 296.
• Received an update regarding expiring contracts for nine certified and six classified employees. They will be evaluated during the current school year.
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