With classes for the 2019-20 school year set to begin Aug. 1, the Bulloch County Board of Education is expected to adopt a calendar soon for the following school year, 2020-21.
The second of two options presented by Chief Financial Officer Troy Brown on behalf of the calendar committee in June would have school start a little later, Aug. 12, in 2020. In a survey of school system employees, most preferred the first option, with school starting Aug. 3, but a slight majority of administrators such as principals and assistant principals preferred to have classes start later than the first week of August.
The board’s first meeting of July will start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, but the agenda hasn’t been posted yet.
“Option 2, we have heard from various sources, couldn’t you start school a little later, so that’s what we tried to build into this, to get a little later start date,” Brown told the board on June 13. “So instead of employees coming back towards the end of July and students starting on August 3, employees don’t come back until the first week of August, and then that pushes the first week of school out to August 12.”
That option would reduce the five-day fall break in 2020 to three days, Wednesday through Friday, Oct. 21-23, and the last day of school would be May 28, 2021, instead of May 21.
Both options would retain the five-day Thanksgiving break and the same two-week break through Christmas to New Year’s. Also in both options, what has been a five-day break in February will be reduced to two days, a Friday and Monday. Both options provide 190 work days for teachers but 177 school days for students, with the traditional state requirement for 180 student days having been waived in recent years.
Of the 609 respondents to a survey directed to all school system employees, 56 percent chose Option 1, the calendar with classes starting Aug. 3 and concluding May 21. Among subgroups, 59 percent of the responding 398 certified, non-administrative employees, such as teachers, and 52 percent of 177 non-certified employees, such as clerical, custodial and food service staff, also chose Option 1, Brown reported.
Of 34 administrators such as principals and assistant principals who responded, 53 percent chose Option 2, in which students would start school Aug. 12 and finish May 28. But at that sample size, just one administrator voting the other way would have made it a tied result.
The survey drew responses from about 40 percent of all employees, Brown said.
With the 2020-21 calendar selection on the June agenda as “new business,” Superintendent Charles Wilson said it could be “placed on the table” for a vote another meeting. But on the basis of the majority of all school employees and of teachers in particular favoring Option 1, Wilson said he was prepared to make a tentative recommendation for that calendar, with the Aug. 3 start date.
However, board members said they wanted additional time to consider the options because of interest in a later start date heard from some parents. As of June 13, the only formal survey of parents had been a survey of school councils, which include some parents and business leaders, used to start the process before the calendar committee fully developed the two options, Brown reported.
That has been the method used the past few years, with a more open-ended survey of school councils first and then a survey of school system employees after options are developed. This year, Brown also presented the options to parents who attended his sessions during the Speak Up for Education event, which was lightly attended, Feb. 28.
“For me personally, based on the Speak Up for Education session I attended and the few people – which would be Cheri’s personal sample – that I spoke to who were parents, they were in favor of Option 2, so I would like more time to have a bigger sample,” said District 1 BOE member Cheri Wagner.
In other words, she wanted to hear from more parents. District 5 member Glennera Martin said she wondered if it would be advantageous to survey parents in general.
An item entitled “Board seeks public input for proposed 2020-2021 school calendar” has been posted on the school system’s website, http://bulloch.k12.ga.us, since June 21. It is not a survey, but it does include information for contacting board members or emailing them as a group, as well as attachments showing both options in color-coded monthly calendar form, which were already on the website.