For the upcoming school year, a week-long fall break for Bulloch County Schools students and staff will coincide with the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair.
In 2015, the fall break was two weeks before the fair. Moving the break to fair week – Oct. 17-21 –was the one major change from the current year’s school calendar to the 2016-17 calendar proposed by administrators and approved last Thursday by the Bulloch County Board of Education.
After having been presented for review and public comment in January, the calendar was scheduled for a vote, received a motion from board member Steve Hein, a second from Mike Sparks, and passed unanimously without further discussion.
School to start Aug. 1
The calendar, which includes 180 days of classes as required by state law, places the first day of school for students on Monday, Aug. 1.
Teachers have a 190-day schedule with pre-planning beginning July 25 and the year-end wrap up known as post-planning ending May 31. There are also three professional development work days for faculty, Sept. 5 and Jan. 2-3, when students will be away from school.
There are 88 days in the first semester, which ends Dec. 19, and 92 days in the second semester, which begins Jan. 4 and ends May 26.
As has been the case for about a decade, the Bulloch County Schools calendar follows a nine-week summer break instead of 12 weeks. So, three one-week breaks are dispersed through the school year in October, February and April.
Additional breaks for holiday seasons include a one-week break for Thanksgiving and a two-week break for the December to New Year’s holidays.
The calendar in list format showing holidays, breaks and other important dates appears with this story at statesboroherald.com. The school system website, www.bulloch.k12.ga.us, also carries a color-coded version in monthly calendar format.
Budget talks ahead
Also Thursday night, the Board of Education received a timeline from Chief Financial Officer Troy Brown for developing and approving a fiscal year 2017 budget. The fiscal year will begin July 1.
Last year, the board approved raises for school employees, funded “local values” of employing more counselors and special subjects teachers, and increased local per-student funding to the schools to make up for past state budget cuts not yet fully restored.
However, the board in 2015 declined suggestions from Brown and Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson for an increase in the local property tax millage, instead opting to spend down part of a $19 million reserve. Brown and Wilson then cautioned that, after the spending increases, the reserve will not remain at sufficient levels for more than a couple of years without a local tax hike or a substantial increase in state funding.
Gov. Nathan Deal has proposed a $300 million increase in state funding to Georgia’s public schools this year, but he has recommended a 3 percent raise for teachers, which would use a large portion of the added funds.
This follows more than $1 billion in increases in statewide funding over the past two years, which partly restored previous years’ “austerity cuts” in per-student funding.
Brown said he may have some preliminary numbers on Bulloch County’s share of the state funding in time for budget discussions to begin at the Feb. 25 meeting. Discussions are then slated to continue at the March 24 and April 14 meetings, for the board to tentatively approve the budget April 28 and give final approval May 12.
He and Wilson called fiscal 2017 the second year of a new three-year approach to budgeting in which they plan to continue the new local funding formula that supplies more cash to previously lower-funded schools.
Also last week, the local board approved submitting the Bulloch County Schools’ application to become a Strategic Waivers School System to the Georgia State Board of Education.
This has been under discussion for more than a year, but was originally an application to be an Investing in Educational Excellence district. The state changed the name, but the old name remains on some of the documents.
In effect, the district is asking for a five-year contract granting waivers from about 30 specific state laws and regulations on things as class sizes, teacher certification, required classroom time and spending controls. In return, each of the 15 Bulloch schools must carry out a school improvement plan and close the gap between its current score on the state’s College and Career Ready Performance Index, or CCRPI, by 3 percent annually.