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Indian River continues with one training day before school year

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PHILADELPHIA — Responding to teacher complaints, the Indian River Board of Education on Thursday turned down Superintendent James Kettrick’s recommendation to move two teacher training days to Aug. 29 and 30.

Mr. Kettrick had wanted to utilize extra time before the school year started to ensure there was enough time to complete state-required training. New state law allows districts to use state aid to open their buildings in August for teacher training.

The school board’s decision means that training days will remain Sept. 4 and the two days following Regents testing in June, under the previously drafted calender.

About 30 members of the teachers union attended the school board meeting, concerned about what they considered a last-minute change that will interrupt family vacation plans. As the board prepared to make a decision on the calendar, Indian River Education Association President Carmine V. Inserra said there are many teachers who would not be able to attend the August training dates because they had already made plans.

“Just recently on July 18, it was finally signed that we could use some days in August for staff development,” said Mr. Inserra. “I think the hard part is that we’re put in such a tough spot because the state was dragging its feet.”

He mentioned that the IREA usually works well with the administration and agreed two training days before the school year would be highly beneficial.

Because of the late scheduling, Mr. Kettrick was proposing that rather than be docked pay for missing a training day, a faculty member could use one of three personal days. However, board member Donald Brumfield, a teacher at Watertown High School, objected to the suggestion because over the course of the year, teachers may be short of days if they have an emergency at home.

“You’re almost forcing teachers to lie to you and tell you they are sick,” he said.

Many of the board members suggested there be a makeup day for training, but Mr. Kettrick pointed out a decision on the calender had to be made during the meeting.

When it came time to vote, board member Elnora M. Durgin made a motion to go with Mr. Kettrick’s recommendation. There was no second.

“The problem was that we’re concerned about the staff being notified on such a short notice,” said board President Frank J. Laverghetta. “The timing was just too short.”

Training required for the upcoming school year is needed for the Dignity for All Students Act, student learning objectives and the Common Core.

About 80 percent of teachers need training for student learning objectives. In addition, building administrators usually like to meet with staff to do additional training, according to Assistant Superintendent Mary Anne Dobmeier.

“There is no question in my mind that we won’t accomplish all that training in one day,” she said.

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