Vacation times will change in future years
The school board approved calendars for the next two academic years at its February 9th meeting.
After looking at more than 15 options, the board was presented the top two choices favored by staff at their meeting last week for both the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years. The board ended up choosing calendars that differ from this year’s calendar for vacation days and school ending dates. This year’s calendar follows a format pretty consistent with recent years.
The board, following the recommendation of Superintendent Ben Desper, went with a different calendar arrangement that adds a new full vacation week during winter months. The administration felt the break was needed, as staff and students start to drag on the long haul between Christmas and spring breaks.
Next year, students will see time off between Feb. 18 and Feb. 22. This is an expansion of the President’s Day holiday currently observed. In exchange for the full week off in winter, students will not wrap up the school year until the week following Memorial day – a slightly later end date from recent years.
“We thought we needed to put in more breaks during the long early-winter period,” Superintendent Desper said.
This year marks the first time the administration has officially set calendars for the two academic years ahead – a move that drew praise from board members. Calendars for both the 2012-2013 and 2013 -2014 academic years are available in the events section at www.pickensprogress.com
“Calendars are funny things,” Desper said. “You think it would be simple to say we’ll go to school these days and be out these days.” But the superintendent told the board and members of the public that there are numerous considerations, including state-set testing, ensuring adequate planning days and seeing that vacations are not disruptive of preparation for upcoming tests.
Desper said the calendars were presented to leadership teams, senior personnel and advisory groups, including parents, before narrowing the options down.
Option one presented to the board was close to the same calendar used this year. Option two changed to reflect the new winter week vacation. Desper said the staff voted system-wide to choose a preference, with option 2 favored by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin.
The board unanimously voted to accept the new calendar for the next two academic years, but they did state some concerns prior to the vote.
Board member John Trammell questioned whether having more full weeks of vacation, rather than just three day weekends, will present childcare problems for working parents.
“There are several weeks where we are fully out,” he said. “I’m thinking about the moms and dads who are working and may not have grandparents available.”
Byron Long questioned the final week of school, which includes a Memorial Day holiday on Monday, wondering if the days following the missed Monday are going to be wasted.
Board Chair Wendy Lowe said she believes the early winter break will help students recharge before making a push for the spring testing period. “We need a break between Christmas and spring break. Students are worn out before the CRCT [test],” she said.
Lowe commended the administration for planning two years ahead. “People are always asking about the next year and want to know when the calendar will be ready,” she said.
Long said the two year calendars should help the staff as well as parents for making plans.
See more news from the school board meeting in a separate story on page 14A of this week’s print edition or in our e-edition.