Students finally back in class

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 24, 2003

After weathering a week with ice storms and no electricity, students throughout Lawrence County are trudging their way back to school today.

A number of districts dismissed classes last week, but the Rock Hill and Symmes Valley districts lost several days of instruction time -- one week before proficiency testing.

Proficiency testing could be delayed for one week, Symmes Valley superintendent Thomas Ben said. District officials are currently working with state officials at this time to work this out, he said.

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"The teachers have always worked hard to maintain our high proficiency test scores, and we have a challenge to repeat that same performance in the classroom," Ben said. "We work hard to maintain those standards all year, not just the week before testing."

Still, lost instruction time has been "very disruptive" for the district," he said. Now, the district is hoping that it can keep the students on a normal five-day schedule.

The district has missed nine days because of inclement weather. Also, it had a two-week late start to the school year because of construction at the high school. Spring Break was already given up in September, Ben said. The state gives school districts five "calamity days", so four days will be added to the Symmes Valley calendar because the district is required by law to have students in school those days.

The high school graduation ceremony will be conducted at the same time as it always has been, Ben said. However, the missed days will affect the issuance of diplomas. The graduating seniors will still have to make up the missed days.

This morning, Ben said trees and power lines were still covering roads in the district, and many students and employees still have no electricity or other utilities. The Red Cross was at the high school providing housing and food to nearby residents affected by the storms.

Friday, 95 students were absent at the high school, and 40 are absent today, principal Tom Bartee said. The average number of students absent is 12-15.

"We've got the kids here and the main thing is to give them a warm, safe atmosphere and safe transportation to get their education," Ben said.

At Rock Hill Middle School, principal Wes Hairston said all buses ran and a large percentage of the students are in school today, even some who still have no electricity.

Getting ready for next week's proficiency testing is also a concern at Rock Hill. Hairston said teachers are working diligently to meet the needs of the students who will take these tests.