R-2 directors again table discussion on setting graduation for OHS Class of 2019; seek input

Roxanne Murphy

The Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education tabled discussion July 23 for the second month in a row to change Owensville High School’s (OHS) graduation date. 

Board members said again that they would like to hear from the students and plan to revisit the issue at their September monthly meeting. Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner explained the discussion is to set the graduation date. 

“You could set it on the traditional Fridays, either the 17th or the 24th,” Garner began. “But there is also a question, due to spring sports, whether it’s track, baseball or any of those –– to moving it to a Sunday afternoon. Then the nearest one would be Sunday, May 19.”

Board President Glenn Ely said if the board was comfortable enough to make the decision at that time, they could. Or they could wait and get more information from parents and students.

Board Director Nona Miller asked if moving graduation to a Sunday would become a contracted half day for the teachers.

“It’s just like Friday nights,” Garner said.

Miller didn’t think the teachers would like the change.

“I know the teachers have been against (moving) that for a long time,” Miller said. “Did we check on everybody else’s graduation dates? Have they been set yet?”

Garner said he did not know about “set.” The dates were all over the board.

“They all seem to be in that two-week span,” he said. 

Miller asked how many were having graduation during the week and Garner said he wasn’t sure.

“I think if we are going to consider moving it we have to have all the information,” Miller said. “I think if we land on top of somebody else that might be pulling families in two different directions. Then we just have other problems.”

Ely said he did not feel like there was going to be a perfect solution.

“Correct me if I am wrong on the attendance part of it,” Miller began. “We try to keep the seniors in as long as possible because that is revenue?”

Garner said no, they have to finish their  hours.

“I remember one year it was a crazy deal where they graduated before we were out of school? It’s been a while back,” Miller said. “If you graduate them on the 12th, then they don’t come back. That is two weeks of attendance  –– would that work against us? If we set that date in front of the end of the school year, and they would for some reason be required to come past that date, how do we handle that situation?”

Garner said they have had that situation before and he would caution against setting the graduation date too early.

 “If you set it on the 17th or 18th, we have been fairly safe most years,” Garner said.

Board members agreed that Mother’s Day was not the day to hold graduation, especially as Maries R-2 in Belle has recently moved their graduation date away from that day.

“It sounds like we need more information to me,” Ely said. “Other than from our last board meeting there has not been inquiries beyond our initial discussion.”

Director Russ Farrell suggested throwing the information out to the public to see what they wanted. 

“Potentially all the schedules for sports should be out,” Miller said. “I think we still need to look.”

Ely said he felt they were about half way to making a decision, but felt they should ask the senior class what they wanted.

“Here is the issue that I have,” Seamon said. “No matter what day we put it on, if we don’t talk to people, we have to talk to God because if we have a meet and there is a storm, we are going to have to move it to the next day. Trying to avoid this –– we are not going to.”

Ely said he understood no matter which way they move, it will conflict with something.

The board decided to cease discussions until the Sept. 17 meeting. Garner said there would not be much time to visit with students between school starting and the August board meeting. September’s meeting would be better suited for getting the opinions of students.