The West Platte School District is adjusting its calendar for next year, ensuring snow days won’t cut into educational time — or summer vacations.
At the Wednesday, April 10 board of education meeting, the board approved the 2019-2020 district calendar, which will adjust the school day by five minutes, lengthening the day to provide extra instruction hours.
Board members were excited about the change, which will see students return to the classroom on Wednesday, Aug. 21. Christmas break will run from Dec. 20 through Jan. 6, 2020. Spring break will be April 10-14, 2020. The last day of school is scheduled for Thursday, May 21, 2020.
According to superintendent Dr. John Rinehart, the short extension will push the district well over the state-required instructional hours and eliminate the need to make up snow days at the end of the year. Additionally, the restructuring will allow for more consistent professional development training days for teachers.
West Platte was not required to run a board of education election this year, as both incumbents Ryan Rotterman and Donald Wilson were the only candidates who filed for the board. Both were sworn back in and Rotterman was elected president of the board, with past president Ron Rowe taking the vice president’s seat.
The board also discussed the district’s budget for the next school year, in light of the capitol improvement projects the district has completed over the last several years.
“For all we’ve done, I think we’re going to end up in really good shape overall,” Rinehart said. He has completed preliminary budget projections, plugging in a $500 increase to teachers’ base pay and keeping the operating levy flat. West Platte has no debt levy. Rinehart said while he has concerns about state funding, it’s too early to make complete assessments. He said previously the board had discussed taking a few years off from major construction projects and building the budget surplus.
Board members generally agreed, though they said parking would continue to be a problem and now with larger facilities it would cost more to maintain them.
“There’s no doubt with the amount of construction we’ve done over the last five years or so that the cost of maintaining everything has gone up substantially,” Rotterman said.
Board member Kyle Stephenson — who himself was a long time superintendent of the district — suggested keeping as much money as possible in reserve so the district wouldn’t need to return to voters to ask for a bond issue. The district’s debts were paid off under Stephenson’s reign, due to money collected from the expansion of the Iatan Power Plant.
The district is planning to complete its updates of HVAC systems this summer, with JE Dunn providing an update on the baseball and softball field projects, which are now largely complete.