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Letter: Too Many Half Days in Easton Area School District

Shawnee Elementary School parents says that half days shouldn't count as full days in meeting 180-day school mandate.

Dear Patch.com,

I agree with you 100 percent about your My View column on Nov. 18 in which you stated that children aren't spending enough time in school these days.

Thank you for finally writing about this.

Last year, I wrote to State. Rep. Joe Emrick and to Secretary of Education Tomalis about the missed number of days at the elementary school level here in the Easton Area School District.

In the 2010-2011 school year, we had a total of 26 half-days... the 12:25 dismissal time.

That equals 78 hours of missed in-class instruction, because the usual full school day goes until 3:25.

I found that number alarming, and I do not understand how that can be acceptable with state requirements.

On the official 2010–2011 school calendar, a total of eight half-days were listed officially. However, an additional five days in the fall and an additional five days in the spring were added during parent conferences, and then an additional eight days were added at the end of the school year.

We somehow had "emergency heat half days for the entire last week of school when in fact only two of the days had temperatures over 85 degrees.

So since several of these days were not listed on the original calendar, is our district getting away with this baloney on their own terms without the state being truly aware?

I know for a fact that these number of half days are not widespread across the United States or other districts. Most schools have their parent-teacher conferences in the evenings, for one thing.

The negative effects of the missed class time carry into performance level in the middle school. Hmm, why can't the Easton Area School District ever make state standards at this level?

So Secretary Tomalis never responded, and State Rep. Emrick said that as long as the school was meeting the 180 days, (even though many of those were half days), case closed.

In addition to contacting my state representative and the secretary of education, I contacted Mrs. Galloway, Principal at Shawnee Elementary, who assured me that attendance was closely monitored and that 180 days were indeed met.

I proceeded to contact Susan McGinley, the Superintendent of the Easton Area School District, who responded with an assurance that the required number of school hours were indeed met, even though she did not share what the required number of hours actually are.

                                                                               Sincerely,

                                                                               Cindy Evancho

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