Students in the Thomaston-Upson County School System can expect to start school on August 6, 2014, and end with graduation on May 22, 2015. Those dates are part of the teacher-approved 2014-2015 school calendar that will be presented to the Board of Education at their March 11 meeting for final approval.
At the BOE’s February 11 meeting, Dr. Larry Derico, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the school system, presented the two proposed calendars to the board for their study. The two calendars were fairly similar in nature, with the major differences being when the school system might take calendar reduction days. The calendars were then voted on by all teachers in the school system, with ‘Calendar A’ receiving the majority of the votes.
Under Calendar A:
• Teachers have three pre-planning days on Aug. 1, 4 and 5, and students start back to class on Aug. 6.
• Labor Day, September 1, 2014, will be a school holiday.
• Fall Holidays will be October 6-10, 2014.
• November 24-25 are listed as Calendar Reduction Days/Student Holidays, with Nov. 26-28 being Thanksgiving Holidays.
• Christmas Holidays will be December 22, 2014 through January 5, 2015. Jan. 5 will be a potential work reduction day/professional planning day/student holiday. Students will start back on Jan. 6, 2015.
• Jan. 19, 2014 will be a school holiday
• February 13, 2015 will be a potential work reduction day/professional planning day/student holiday.
• March 13, 2015 will be a potential work reduction day/professional planning day/student holiday.
• CRCT Testing will be held April 6-10, 2015.
• Spring Break will be April 20-24, 2015.
• Students’ last day and high school graduation day will be May 22, 2015.
At the Feb. 11 meeting, board member Terrell Jackson questioned the August 1 starting date for teachers and asked if other teachers in the schools have input into the calendars.
Dr. Derico is chairman of the calendar committee, which is made up of teacher and parent representatives from each school, along with three district staff. He responded that the Teachers of the Year are the representatives for each school.
“The faculty is made aware that they are the contact persons, and any suggestions they may have go to them,” Derico said. “Also, if I have any information that has been sent to me during the course of the year, I bring that to the attention of all the members of the calendar committee.”
School Superintendent Dr. Maggie Shook added that the early start date is needed in order to keep graduation before Memorial Day.
“For us to keep graduation the Friday before Memorial Day, which is kind of historic in this district, we had to have that early starting time to get our days in,” Shook said. “Otherwise, we would have students coming in after Memorial Day.”
Board member Miriam Elsey said one concern she has heard deals with Spring Break coming so late in the year. She said there are only three and half weeks of school between the end of Spring Break and the end of school.
Dr. Derico replied that there were several considerations taken into account in determining when Spring Break would occur.
“Some of the things that have gone on in regards to spring break, at one point we were trying to allow CRCT testing to take place as soon as possible, so spring break came later. Because we were told that the sooner we send the test results in, the sooner we will get them back, and then remediate before the end of the school year, because we weren’t funding summer school. Then after that wasn’t an issue, we were directed to try to align as much as possible with neighboring systems.”
School and Community Relations Director Karen Truesdale, who was also on the calendar committee, said the CRCT testing window is nine days, with five days for testing, and four days for make-up testing for any students who were absent. So the testing window will be April 6 through April 16. She added that if Spring Break was taken before the testing, teachers would lose a week of preparation for the testing.
“The majority of the teachers for CRCT who are on the committee, what they voiced was they didn’t want to be out a week, then come back on that Monday and start testing,” said Truesdale. “And none of the teachers expressed a major concern with spring break being that late. “
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Mike Gatlin said teachers who haven’t been on the calendar committee quickly realize what they have to deal with on the committee.
“If you sit in on the meetings, there are young teachers that come in that have not been on the committee before – the new teachers that come in every year – they come in with guns blazing that they’re going to make these changes,” Gatlin said. “But once they get in there and are going over everything and looking at testing and looking at the mid-terms and the first 90 days, you just realize that there is very little room to make changes.”
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.