File photo by Brian Hagberg.

School Board Debates Return to Ending School Year with Half Day for Students

February 14, 2024

RUSSELL, Pa. – With most of the 2024-25 school calendar finalized, there remained one final decision following Monday’s board meeting. What to do on the last day of school.

The calendar, as it stood entering Monday’s meeting, had students attending for a full day on the last day of school (June 6, 2025). Board member John Wortman proposed a change where students would be in school for a half day.

“I think that there’s probably a lot of work that also needs to be done from faculty and staff at the administrative level,” Wortman said. “I think that having that time would probably provide some opportunities for (staff) to take care of some of those items without having students in the building.”

While changing back to a half day for students could ease some of the burden on teachers, Superintendent Amy Stewart said it could create a “hardship” for families.

“Daycares will pivot, but there will be points of failure when we have half days,” Stewart said. “It is definitely a challenge for us. We’ve done it. It’s not a fun play day for everybody. It cuts both ways.”

One of the other issues, Transportation Manager Mike Kiehl said, is making sure there are enough bus drivers to transport for a half day.

“Our drivers are super super tight,” Kiehl said. “Last week there was a day we didn’t have enough drivers to cover all our afternoon runs.”

Kiehl said many of the drivers have other jobs they work between their morning and afternoon runs. He also added that there would be additional cost and safety concerns.

“We dropped kids off where there were no parents,” Kiehl said.

Wortman suggested that there would be plenty of time to get the word out between now and the end of next school year.

Board member Kevin Lindvay made a motion to table the discussion until the next Committee of the Whole meeting after expressing concern that moving to a half day “isn’t the smartest thing to do.”

The motion to table was approved unanimously.

Board president Paul Mangione made it clear that the only issue with the calendar as presented was regarding the last day of school.

“For planning purposes, we’re only talking about that last day of school,” Mangione said. “The rest of the schedule will remain intact.”

The 2024-25 school calendar, as presented, can be found here.

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