In the future, Fulton County Fair week will not result in automatic vacation time for Gorham Fayette students.
School board members voted 3-2 Monday against a resolution stating that each year Gorham Fayette Local Schools will not be in session during Fulton County Fair week.
Board members Terry Kovar and Fred Stockburger voted in favor of the resolution while David Brinegar, Paula Schaffner and Kelly Bentley were opposed.
For the past three years, the board chose to give students three additional days off following the Labor Day holiday on Monday of fair week and the county-wide Jr. Fair Day vacation on Tuesday.
Teacher Suzette Boesger stated her opposition to the resolution prior to the vote. She said she was representing a majority of staff members.
“We don’t feel it’s a sound academic decision,” Boesger said.
She told board members that only about 10 percent of the student body is involved in 4-H and only about half of them need to miss school for 4-H fair duties.
She suggested that board members collect data about student involvement and make a decision about vacation time on a year-to-year basis rather than adopting a set policy as part of the regular school calendar.
Trustee Fred Stockburger said that if teachers are so concerned about missing school, they should be willing to lengthen the school day to match other districts in the area. Fayette’s abbreviated schedule results in eight days less instructional time, he said.
Boesger said staff members would be willing to consider a longer day during contractual talks, but that wasn’t part of the current discussion.
Audience member Kirk Keiser, recently elected as a board member, said he didn’t think the days off were a great benefit for the district overall.
Elementary school principal Dr. LuAnn Boyer agreed.
“We need to make every decision based on what’s best for the children,” she said.
Kindergarten teachers, in particular, consider the vacation a distraction when it arrives so soon after the start of school. She’s heard from parents, also, about the disruption to school routines that are just getting established.
In addition, she said, the break arrives when third grade students need to prepare for the annual achievement testing.