MERRIMACK — Although voters supported a warrant article seeking to change the school district’s homework protocol, school officials said this week that no adjustments will be made during the existing school year.
“It is at least my opinion that — at this point we have eight weeks left in the school year — it would be irresponsible to change course with the way we have been doing things for 32 weeks,” said Shannon Barnes, chairman of the school board.
A citizen petition warrant article was placed on the school district’s April ballot asking residents if the local school system should amend its homework protocol and allow teachers to decide for themselves whether homework grades should be factored into a student’s total cumulative semester grade.
Barnes acknowledged that the warrant article passed with a vote of 1,770 residents in support of the change, and 1,463 votes in opposition.
“We have reaffirmed with the district counsel that has the opinion that this warrant article is advisory only,” she said.
The current homework protocol, which was adjusted about two years ago, discontinued grading homework. Although homework is still being assigned, school officials say the prior change has one goal — to better evaluate the academic skills that a student can or cannot do, without inflating or deflating their grade.
Now, however, the majority of voters have expressed that they prefer the old grading system of homework.
“Just to be clear, we always intended to review the homework protocol annually since we rolled it out the first year. We will also take into account the voting results as part of our discussion and upcoming meeting,” said Barnes, adding the topic will be included in the agenda for a future meeting to be debated.
For now, the existing protocol of not grading homework is still in place.
Finlay Rothhaus, town councilor, told the school board that students should be given the greatest opportunity, suggesting that a committee be formed to review comprehensive based education.
“Homework should be a tool. It should be a practice piece of your learning and it shouldn’t be counted as a grade,” said Rothhaus.
Previously, the State Board of Education affirmed the district’s decision to discontinue grading homework, and the New Hampshire Supreme Court opted not to take action on a civil lawsuit regarding the matter.
Bob Bevill, a local parent and attorney who brought forward the lawsuit, also spearheaded the petition for the ballot.
“As long as homework is assigned, it should be graded and counted towards the student’s final grade,” he said earlier.