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Balanced calendar move stalls after teachers vote

McDuffie County school faculty dealt a fatal blow to the idea of having a balanced school calendar for the 2004-05 school year, with only 60 percent supporting the switch from a traditional calendar in a county-wide survey.

The McDuffie County Board of Education had said that they would only continue looking into the switch if they got 80 percent approval.

"The board had made it very clear on the front end that we would not even consider it any further if there wasn't at least 80 percent showing an interest," said Board Chairman Tommy Phelps. "That level of interest is not there, so the board is not going to spend any more time looking at it in the immediate future."

The idea of having a balanced calendar was met with opposition from some parents, who said there have not been improvements in some other systems that have instituted the calendar.

"I still think the only reason we should ever consider this is ifİwe can statistically proveİby schools that have been in this system for a long time that it improves the education of our kids, not teacher burnout, not even on budget," said one parent during an information session Monday night at Springfield Baptist Church.

Parents also worried that the change would significantly affect the summer break. However, McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools Ed Grisham told parents that the summer would still be eight weeks long, allowing for students to attend summer camps and still go on family vacations. The summer break is currently 11 weeks long.

Under balanced calendar, there would be a two-week break in September and October, a two-week Christmas break, a two-week break in March and April and a summer break nine weeks later.

Dr. Grisham said that there were some negative aspects to balanced calendar, but he believed them to be slight.

"I personally think there are a lot of good advantages of going to the balanced calendar, but I also recognize that there are some issues with it," he said.

Dr. Grisham noted that energy costs would increase slightly from having to run air conditioners for two extra weeks of summer, but those would essentially be the only extra costs. He also cited logistical problems with ordering books and the short time frame to implement the system as other reasons for opposition.

But he felt like the idea will be back before McDuffie County school trustees.

"I think we've had an increased number of systems go to a different type calendar, and I think it'll probably continue," he said. "I do think from an instructional standpoint, especially for kids in Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade, there's a real advantage to doing intensive weeks, then having a little break, then starting back."



Web posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2003











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