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New year, new topic of debate: school calendar

BOE tables email discussion

New year, new topic of debate: school calendar

New year, new topic of debate: school calendar


A proposed 2014-15 school calendar that would shorten Thanksgiving break to three days and extend the school year past Memorial Day ran into doubts Thursday night at the Bulloch County Board of Education.

The calendar had been introduced in December, but rather than taking an expected vote Thursday, the board tabled it after a lengthy discussion.

In the current school year, students and teachers had a full week off for Thanksgiving, and the last day of school is May 23. The proposed new calendar would reduce the 2014 Thanksgiving break to Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 26-28. It also extends school past Memorial Day for four class days, concluding Friday, May 29, 2015, for teachers and students.

The added class days make up for work days for teachers when students are off during the school year. These include new professional learning days Nov. 10, Sept. 2 and March 2.

Administrators say the training days are needed to prepare teachers for the Common Core State Standards curriculum, new state objectives for student learning, a new teacher evaluation system and a local initiative to create teacher planning groups. Some of the training has been held during class days, requiring teachers to leave their students with substitutes.

“By putting these days spread out throughout the calendar, it is allowing for us to have those times for either staffs to work at their schools or to come together in professional learning without causing a disruption to the students’ learning process,” Assistant Superintendent Kevin Judy said.

However, board member Vernon Littles said he is worried that the class days after Memorial Day will become a “dead week.”

“Pretty much everything is going to be done, and I think it’s going to be a problem with students as far as discipline and everything else,” he said.

Board member Mike Sparks agreed, saying, “They’re pretty well going to be checked out until that Friday.”

Other members had heard from parents about the loss of the full week at Thanksgiving as a time for family travel. Board member Anshul Jain noted that it’s a holiday period shared with other communities and states.

Superintendent Charles Wilson said the two lost days at Thanksgiving may be a moot point because two furlough days may be needed to deal with tight funding.

After more than half an hour of discussion about the calendar, the board unanimously voted to table it and consider other possibilities at its Jan. 23 work session.

Thursday’s was the annual organizational meeting, and the board re-elected Maurice Hill as its chairman and Mike Herndon as vice chairman, with Herndon absent. This was done by an anonymous, paper ballot process. Two attorneys counted the votes and announced the winners, but no vote counts were released. Attorney Marc Bruce said this process was adopted two years ago because previous open voting for the board officers was felt to be potentially divisive.

 

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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