Thanks to the Georgia General Assembly approving the restoration of approximately $314 million of the $1 billion in yearly austerity reductions to the state’s education budget, for the first time since 2010, there will be no furlough days for school staff and a full 180-day calendar for students.
The Thomaston-Upson Board of Education discussed the school calendar and possible changes due to the school system receiving more funding at a March 25 work session. According to minutes from the meeting, Governor Nathan Deal was successful in increasing the state Quality Basic Education (QBE) funds for each system to use to either provide one time raises or to reduce or eliminate furloughs. The Thomaston-Upson School System has five furlough days in its current 2014 calendar. Based on the knowledge that the system would receive an increase in funding, the administrative staff reduced the number of furlough days in the new 2015 calendar to two. The system is actually receiving a little over $600,000, which is equivalent to five furlough days, so School Superintendent Dr. Maggie Shook and her staff recommended removing the final two furlough days from the calendar.
Based on that recommendation, the proposed calendar approved by teachers in March was changed to eliminate the two furlough days. After some discussion at the work session, according to the minutes, “It was decided to change the two furlough days planned for Thanksgiving week to holidays, add a winter holiday for February 16, and add three additional school days at the end of May, with school ending on May 28 and graduation on May 29. This will allow 180 days for students and 190 days for teachers.”
At the BOE’s April 8 meeting, Dr. Larry Derico, Director of Curriculum and Instruction and head of the Calendar Committee presented the revised calendar:
• 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 24-28 will be Thanksgiving Holidays.
• Christmas Holidays will be December 22, 2014 through January 2, 2015. January 5 will be a professional planning day with students not in school. Students will start back on Jan. 6, 2015.
• Jan. 19, 2014 will be the MLK Holiday.
• February 13, 2015 will be a professional planning day with students not in school.
• February 16, 2015 will be a Winter Holiday.
• March 13, 2015 will be a professional planning day with students not in school.
• CRCT Testing will be held April 6-10, 2015.
• Spring Break will be April 20-24, 2015.
• May 25, 2015 will be the Memorial Day Holiday. Students will return to school on May 26, 2015.
• Students’ last day will be May 28, 2015. There will be a professional planning day on May 29, 2015, with high school graduation that evening.
Following Dr. Derico’s presentation, Board member Angeline McGill made a motion to approve the new calendar. Board member Jacqueline Hollis seconded the motion. The motion was approved 7-0.
Following the vote, Board chair Keith Rohling noted he had talked with school staff members from Chatooga County during the recent BOE conference about CRCT testing before or after spring break.
“They had tried moving spring break after CRCT, but they found no appreciable change in the scores, so they went back to having spring break the week before CRCT. I know we’ve always tried to have spring break after CRCT, but they tried it and did not find any big difference in statistics. I just thought I would mention that.”
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.