All Stakeholders in White Oak ISD,
I am writing to address the concerns of a those in the community that have expressed their displeasure with the decision to dismiss all classes on Friday, March 8, 2013 and make up the school day with an early release date on Good Friday, March 29, 2013.
The decision to dismiss the district on Friday was based on the experience gained from last year’s state tournament. In 2012 we dismissed the high school and all other campuses were required to attend classes as a regular school day. There were many parents/relatives of the basketball players working in the district that took leave to attend the tournament and an abundance of parents as fans that checked their students out of school to make the trip. The number of substitutes required to cover classes, the attendance of those still in school and the total disruption to the academic day were all considerations in the decision not to duplicate that process in 2013. In order to make the adjustment in the calendar, one of our two bad weather days would have to be used to substitute for Friday the 8th. The two bad weather days were Good Friday and Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a Federal Holiday and considered to be the start of the summer travel season. It is on a Monday, which did not lend itself to early release to help with those wanting to travel for a long weekend. With that in mind, Good Friday was the better solution for the calendar adjustment. Good Friday is not a Federal Holiday. Our Maintenance Staff is working on that day and several school-related activities have been on the schedule for that day since the beginning of the year. March 29, 2013 is the best option to meet the needs of the corporate body of the White Oak Independent School District.
Are we placing athletics ahead of academics? At no time in the six plus years that I have been Superintendent of Schools at White Oak ISD has anything been placed in higher regard than the academics success of our students. The only thing that would trump that statement would be the safety of our students, faculty and staff. Some have written that letting school out for the tournament is equal to saying sports is of greater importance than academics. My response to that accusation is as follows:
I have every confidence that the students, faculty and staff at White Oak ISD, as well as the vast majority of the stakeholders in this district, recognize the outstanding quality of instruction provided to our students. The instructional strategies, integrated technology and attention to needs of each student rival any educational facility in the state of Texas and beyond.
To those of you that have sent your concerns, I understand the issue of childcare and the working parent. The choices we make are not taken lightly or without careful consideration of all involved. If children have to miss school for a family trip, they will be able to make up any work missed and they will benefit from time spent with family and friends.
I hope this information is useful to anyone trying to understand why the district is adjusting the calendar.