Graves County Board of Education moves start date back PHOTO

The Graves County Board of Education unanimously voted in favor of delaying the district’s start date to August 26. From left, vice-chairperson Kelly Thurman, board member Ronnie Holmes, Chairman Jim Wurth, board member Kenneth House, board member Julie Moffitt, and Superintendent Matthew Madding discussed why it was crucial to delay the first day of school from the original Aug. 6 start date. Madding said the extra time would allow teachers to prepare for an unprecedented school year.

The Graves County Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to delay the start date back to August 26. The decision reversed their previous vote from July 16, which was 3-2 against the recommendation to delay from their original August 6 start date.

Board member Julie Moffitt told the board that she had heard from many faculty and community members about how unprepared they were for such an unprecedented school year.

“What troubles me the most is that I’m hearing from teachers that they’re not prepared for this altered way of learning, and as a parent myself, I don’t feel comfortable sending my child into a situation where those leaders say they’re not prepared,” she said to the board. “As a board member, I feel it’s my responsibility to not send other peoples’ kids into a situation where they say they are not prepared.”

Superintendent Matthew Madding said to the board that delaying to late August was particularly important for allotting extra time for teachers to develop new online instruction strategies, especially for students whose parents have opted for the virtual curriculum.

He said the district would be utilizing an online platform called Edgenuity in tandem with traditional classroom instruction. Students without the necessary Internet access will be selected for “targeted intervention in school buildings on an as needed basis,” according to the slide presentation.

Vice-chairperson Kelly Thurman asked the superintendent if there was a plan in place to help child abuse victims. School staff, she said, are a “first line of defense” for them, and the reporting of such cases has gone “down to almost none since March.”

Madding confirmed that such a plan is in the works. In addition, state funds received would allow them to hire new help.

“Honestly, that’s one of the things that we’re still trying to work on developing, because that’s going to be a massive undertaking this year,” he said. “That’s part of the reason why we’re asking for a little bit more time. We do have some funds this year to be able to hire an additional councilor to help, but that one person is not going to solve all of our district needs.”

The district will also be able to utilize non-traditional instruction (NTI) days in the event all schools need to close for any reason throughout the year, be it pandemic related or a simple snow-day.