MOUNT VERNON — The month of November brings snow, the start of the holiday season, and the beginning of deer hunting for many people. Archery season has already started, the youth have the weekend of Nov. 23-24 for their gun season, and opening day for overall gun season starts Dec. 2, the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Of the school districts in Knox County and the surrounding area, five schools give opening day off and two don’t. North Fork and Mount Vernon schools have school on opening day while the rest let kids enjoy the day off.
Scott Hartley, superintendent of North Fork schools, said that it’s important to remember the number of hours a district has to meet. According to the Ohio Department of Education, students K-6 must have 910 hours of schooling and grades 7-12 must have 1,001 hours of schooling.
“I’m sure each district is a little different in days off for holidays, professional development, or even calamity,” Hartley said, noting that they meet the requirements with the state with a little flexibility for calamity days.
“With that being said, we don’t find a lot of students missing (on opening day). We have our share but most go hunting in the morning, get ready for school, then go hunting right after school, so the students here have planned it out so they are able to make the best use of their time.”
Bill Seder, superintendent of Mount Vernon, took the question regarding if the district saw a significant drop in attendance on opening day and dug back into the history of the district.
“We went back as far as the 1992-1993 school year and looked at every district calendar to the present,” He said. “In that time span, 28 years, the district has only given the Monday after Thanksgiving off a total of 2 times.”
Those times were in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years. Seder also went back and looked at the attendance on opening day the previous two years compared to their average daily attendance.
“We determined that there was 12 percent attendance drop at the high school and a five percent drop at the middle school,” Seder said. “While we do have drops in attendance prior to and after a holiday, their percents were slightly higher. How such information will impact our calendar moving forward will be an interesting item for discussion.”
Seder mentioned that the district spends a lot of time working collaboratively with the schools on the district calendar. And adjusting areas, such as holiday breaks, would have an impact on the overall schedule.
The superintendent of Centerburg school, Mike Hebenthal, said that when he started working for the district in 2003 having opening day off was part of the calendar.
“I’ve taught at four different school districts and all but one dismissed that day,” He said.
He gave two reasons for schools having that day off. One being that a large portion of the students and staff enjoy hunting and would miss school. The other that since the buses travel on a lot of back roads with kids walking to meet the bus, the district worries about the safety of the kids with more hunters being out that morning.
Jason Snively, the superintendent of Danville Local Schools, said the practice of having opening day off at his district goes back to when he attended the school over 30 years ago.
“A lot of this has to deal with local culture and traditions,” he said about having the day off. “For many families this is an opportunity for them to spend time together and enjoy the outdoors as well as develop lifelong memories…This is not necessarily a reason we do not have school but hunting is a large portion of our local economy.”
For those who don’t go hunting, Snively said having opening day off gives them more time to travel to see family because opening day falls the weekend after Thanksgiving.
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