Yet another change has been made to the proposed school calendar for next year, while educators and parents have weighed in on both sides of the issue.
After two revisions of the calendar -- with winter and fall breaks -- were presented to the Board of Education, McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools Mark Petersen put a traditional school calendar on the table at Thursday's meeting.
"A lot of the comments I've heard revolve around plans people have made for this year," Dr. Petersen said during the meeting. "As much as I think the (original proposed) calendar is one I would like to continue with, there are a lot of considerations to be made."
The traditional calendar, which mirrors the current calendar, begins on Friday, Aug. 5 and ends on Friday, May 19. This newest version will lie on the table until the March BOE meeting.
All of this takes place as the Georgia Legislature debates a bill that would require school systems in the state to begin in late August in order to boost tourism dollars.
McDuffie County's move back toward a traditional calendar was met with mixed feelings from the crowd at the board meeting. The most vocal group in opposition to the original proposed calendar was glad to see the inclusion of a more traditional schedule.
Mike Carrington, a parent of a high school student, spoke during the board's public input session. The calendar being considered last month by the board would hurt tourism, the top industry in McDuffie County, he said.
He cited problems such as loss of income from summer camps and loss of activities like mission trips and vacations. In addition, he said year-round school presents problems for older students who earn money in the summer.
"I'm scared year-round school is nothing but another fad," Mr. Carrington said.
But educators on hand at the meeting like the idea of week-long breaks during the year. Several discussed the educational benefits of a calendar like the one originally proposed.
Mychele Swain, Maxwell Elementary principal, attained her masters degree at Augusta State University with a thesis comparing year-round school to the traditional calendar.
She said students who are behind in their work excel during catch up times scattered throughout the year, instead of trying to make up all the work during the summer. Linda Grisham, principal at Dearing Elementary School, agreed.
"The weeks off can be used to bring kids who are lagging up to speed," she said.
Dr. Petersen expects to hear from the supporters of the originally proposed calendar during the next month. He said if the board receives enough input in favor of that version, it may be considered for adoption instead of the traditional calendar.
"We've only heard from the nay-sayers," Dr. Petersen said. "I suspect now the nay-sayers of the traditional calendar will come out."
The board, like the public, was split on the option of the traditional calendar. Paul Leroy stated that he didn't want people to feel blindsided by a non-traditional calendar. Nether Ivery and Virginia Bradshaw felt keeping a traditional calendar puts McDuffie County a year behind.
But Dr. Petersen hopes to remedy that during the coming months. He said at the March meeting, he will present a calendar to the board for the 2006-2007 year that includes the week-long breaks. He hopes the board will vote on it during the April meeting.
"I think we need to be able to do two calendars at a time, so that folks can know when the next calendar is and then they can set their family reunions and vacations and that kind of stuff," Dr. Petersen said.