Kanawha County seeking public input on school start date with online survey

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County School Board introduced an online vote system at its Thursday meeting on four options for the 2017-2018 school calendar.

The survey system, which should be up and running Friday around 6 a.m., has the options of starting school Aug. 7, Aug. 14, Aug. 21, or Sept. 5. Kanawha County Schools webmaster Zach Hanshaw said specifics of how those start dates would effect the rest of the school year would be shown.

“(Shown) in a more descriptive of what each calendar entails, including spring break, Christmas break and the different dates and times,” said Hanshaw, who said that the later start dates correspond with later ending dates for summer vacation.

Board member Ric Cavender thought each option had its pluses and minuses, and it should be up for the public to decide.

“I feel like the four days that are presented are good dates, and I think each one presents a different scenario where we may get (more) or less of a break,” he said. “At the end of the day, if the people want to start later we’ll find that out and make the decision based upon that.”

Hanshaw said that voting on the survey, which will be available on the KCSB website, would require entering certain information to ensure the results remain fair and the survey isn’t manipulated by multiple votes.

“If you’re a student you need to put in your student ID number, if you’re a parent you need to fill out your name, address and email address; if you’re an employee you need to put your 939 number, and if you’re a community member you need to do the same as a parent.”

With four different groups affected by the school calendar weighing in, Cavender thought voting was the right way to solve what had become a controversey early in the school year.

“I think especially a subject that we’ve gotten so much public input on already; emails, phone calls, concerned parents; concerned citizens. I think think this is just a really effective and immediate way to make sure every single person’s voice is heard.”

Hanshaw said that if suspicious or double submissions were suspected, he would delete those entries. The poll will remain open through Oct. 15.

Kanawha County began school Aug. 8 this year, and hot schools caused some schools to miss days or close early, prompting complaints from parents.

The Aug. 8 start date was the earliest in West Virginia.

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