School board votes to switch calendars to compensate for lost hours due to weather

Delta Digital News Service

By Shelby Russom | Contributor

February 1, 2024

PARAGOULD, Ark. – Greene County Technical School Board approved a waiver to revise the 2023-2024 school year calendar in a special school board meeting yesterday.

            The Greene County Technical School administration recommended the school board approve a waiver from the state department allowing the district to change the school year calendar from a traditional to an alternate calendar to make up for school days lost to inclement weather.

            The waiver would allow the district to count the instructional minutes on the first day of school, Aug. 14, 2023, and count to the end of the calendar school year, May 24, 2024. The district has already been gathering extra instructional minutes throughout the school year but could not bank those minutes under a traditional calendar. Currently, the high school banks 365 instructional minutes daily, five minutes over the daily minimum. With the alternate calendar, the district can bank those extra five minutes a day and put them towards covering for inclement weather.

            “By approving this waiver, we’ve banked enough time that out of the three snow days we missed this year, we can take two off and only be needing to make up one snow day,” GCT’s Supt. Scott Gerrish said.

“By approving this waiver, we’ve banked enough time that out of the three snow days we missed this year, we can take two off and only be needing to make up one snow day,”

GCT’s Supt. Scott Gerrish

            The board voted to approve the waiver, which will remedy the school’s inability to use alternative methods of instruction, or AMI, days, due to the Arkansas Learns Act. The approval of this will mean the school now expects students to attend school Feb. 19, 2024, making up for instructional time lost during inclement weather. The school plans to announce the change through social media as early as Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. Going forward, the state will expect the school board to revote on the alternate calendar each school year. President of the school board Tim Roswell said since there are no longer AMI days, banking extra instructional hours seems like the most logical way to make up for lost time and keep students from having to attend school in the last week of May 2024.

            After time spent in executive session, the school board voted to suspend the expulsion of a student for the remainder of the 2023-2024 school year for breaking rule 10 of the GCT Junior High Handbook. Rule 10 prohibits students from possessing, receiving, huffing/inhaling or dispensing a controlled substance.

            According to Tony Boyd, assistant principal of GCT Junior High School, he caught the student in question with a controlled substance Jan. 19. Once Boyd and the Student Resource Officer on duty confiscated the substance and had it tested, the substance came back positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The Junior High School recommended the school board consider the student for suspended expulsion. Boyd said alternative school for one semester may be the best option for the student.

“I think that is going to be his best avenue. He deserves to at least have that shot,” Boyd said.

            Suspended expulsion allows the student to still attend school but in a location of the school board’s choice. This option will stand as long as both the student and guardian comply with the rules set for suspended expulsion, which may include but are not limited to receiving school-based mental health counseling services, referral to Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous programs, drug testing, passing classes and so on.       

             Christi Sims, GCT administrative assistant, said, “Not all schools do the suspended expulsion. It’s just something we do to give our students another chance.”

            The guardian of the student initially intended to read an apology letter the student wrote to the school board but was unable to attend the meeting due to personal reasons.

           In other business:

  • The board read the first revisions of Licensed and Classified Personnel Policies, which did not require the board to take action.
  • The board also approved an annual trip to St. Louis, Missouri, for GCT’s gifted and talented program, PACE.
  • The board approved outgoing student transfer petitions and a personnel list.


Shelby Russom is a multimedia journalism major student in the School of Media and Journalism at Arkansas State University.