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Credibility of AMI days discussed as BOE approves calendar

Justin Addison, Editor/Publisher
Posted 1/24/24

It took two votes, but the Fayette School District’s Board of Education finally approved the calendar for the 2024-25 school year.

The approval came in a 4-2 vote at the board’s …

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Credibility of AMI days discussed as BOE approves calendar


It took two votes, but the Fayette School District’s Board of Education finally approved the calendar for the 2024-25 school year.

The approval came in a 4-2 vote at the board’s regular monthly meeting on Thursday, Jan. 18. One member, Shauna Young, was absent from the meeting.

Classes for the 2024-25 year will begin on Aug. 20 and end on May 25.

Superintendent Brent Doolin supplied the board with three possible calendars, which he said were evaluated by the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee (SAC). He recommended the third option, which was the most popular among SAC members.

The calendar includes four built-in snow days and four Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) days. In the event no days are missed due to weather, the district will be in session 1,076.2 hours, which is 32.2 hours more than the minimum 1,044 hours the state requires.

But it was the AMI days that were a point of concern.

Two members were at odds with the rest of the board over the proposed AMI days. Sarah Wies and Kristen Gibbs both questioned the value of AMI days, and each objected to including them in the new calendar.

AMI days are used by many, if not all, school districts around the state. They gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic when schools were closed and are designed to provide education remotely through computers or tablets. They are now used to limit snow days. For instance, if a school must be closed due to weather, the district may declare an AMI day, which counts as a whole school day.

But in many cases, teachers simply assign busy work rather than provide actual lessons. That is why Gibbs and Wies questioned their validity.

“I don’t understand how that equates to a day, not being in school,” Wies said. “I feel like they’re missing out on education.”

She asked why AMI days were employed while the district still had unused snow days built into the calendar.

Gibbs simply called AMI days “a complete waste of time” for her children, one of whom is in elementary school, the other in high school.

On the Tuesday before the Thursday board meeting, the district had an AMI day, which was among several days out of school due to recent bad weather. The schedule interruptions came just when the second semester was beginning. And having been in school for just a few days prior to the AMI day, Gibbs explained, meant lesson reviews were close to pointless since barely any lessons had been taught previously.

AMI days can be particularly difficult for parents of elementary-aged children. Parents often have to work, regardless of school being called off, and therefore cannot help their child access online materials and virtual classes.

“The point of school is to learn,” Gibbs said. She suggested that the district use Mondays as makeup days since the school already employs a four-day schedule.

Superintendent Doolin admitted that while AMI days are easier for some teachers, it’s not necessarily good for students, even though he contends the district is getting better at providing education remotely. “There’s no way I can look anybody in the eye and say it’s the same as being in person,” he said.

Gibbs motioned to accept the third calendar option, excluding AMI days. The board voted 4-2 against the measure. It then gave 4-2 approval for the calendar with the four AMI days with Wies and Gibbs voting against.

In other business, the board discussed upcoming needs to be incorporated into the district’s fiscal year 2024-25 budget that will go into effect July 1. Those include more funds for additional Special Education teachers and resources. Doolin said he wants to use unspent funds on additional mats on the front of the stage at the baseline of the high school basketball court, electronic adjusters for the middle school rims for youth basketball programs, and floor repairs outside of the middle school locker rooms.

A request by high school football coach Kole Hinton for a $2,500 stipend for an additional assistant coach was effectively tabled. Doolin said he wanted to wait until the end of the year before deciding on the matter.

“My recommendation…is to wait and prioritize that position closer to the end of this fiscal year and make a decision on that later. My heart wants to tell him ‘yeah.’ But I can’t say that’s fiscally responsible right now.”

The Fayette Board of Education holds regular meetings in the high school library at 6:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month except for July. It holds a special afternoon meeting in January. Meetings are open, agendas are posted in advance, and the public is invited.

Three candidates are running for two seats on the board, which will open in April. Current members Matt Hudson and John Stroupe declined to seek third terms. Since declaring their candidacies, none of the three have attended any meetings of the very board of which they wish to be members. There are two more meetings scheduled before the April 2 elections, Feb. 21 and Mar. 20.


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