The holiday break for some Pender County students will not be as long as many hoped for. After a fire broke out in Malpass Corner Elementary School last week, school officials decided the lost days would be made up by cutting into the holiday break, something some parent's aren't happy about. Rebecca Rivenbark has a fifth grader at Malpass Corner Elementary School. She said the school dipping into the holiday break for make-up days is a major problem. “The plane tickets have already been bought that's four or five hundred dollars down the drain because she can't go now, she has to go to school." All 504 Malpass Corner students have been out of school since a fire broke out in a bathroom. Clean up efforts have caused students to miss nine days of school, which the Pender County school board decided will be made up by taking five days away from the Christmas break, a teacher work day in March, and the first three days of spring break. Jamie Whitmore has two children at Malpass. She said the school board did not do enough to get input from parents, much less notify them of the changes. “When you leave a message it's weeks on end before you hear back from anyone. You really feel like your opinion does not matter." School officials said the challenge they have is making sure students complete a required 180 days of instruction without cutting into their testing schedule or adding additional days to the end of the school year. Joyce Keith, Pender County Community Schools Director, said, "With this being the holiday season, families already have holiday plans and activities, but this is just a situation that wasn't in our control." Schools officials said phone calls have gone out to parents and the school's website has been updated with new information. Letters will also be going out to parents today. Pending an inspection from the health department, students will return to class on Monday. Administrators and the superintendent will be on hand then, and may take certain family's situations into consideration.
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