01/11/05 — August through June term set for schools

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August through June term set for schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 11, 2005 2:02 PM

The Board of Education on Monday approved a calendar for Wayne County schools next year, cutting the Christmas vacation in half and stretching the school year from late August until early June.

The proposed 2005-2006 school year has students reporting for classes on Aug. 25 and wrapping up the year on June 8, 2006.

Edward Cromartie, assistant superintendent for personnel, represented the committee that worked on the calendar. He said the changes are in line with legislators' request that students not start school before Aug. 25 or finish after June 10.

The proposal also reduces the number of days for teachers from 220 to 215, while their pay remains the same.

Cromartie said that school law dictated the calendar cover at least nine instructional months and total 180 days. He said that working within the confines of the proposed dates made it challenging.

"This is a tight calendar," he said. "It was discussed thoroughly."

The changes mean Christmas holidays will be nearly half of what students were given this year and gives the school system less flexibility with make-up days.

Students recently returned from nearly three weeks out of school, with high school end-of-course exams taken before the break. Under the new schedule, students will be out of school for less than two weeks and high school exams will be given after the holiday break.

Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools, said teacher workdays will be used for make-up days as much as possible and asked for parents' indulgence as the changes are implemented.

"We're operating with a brand new set of rules," he said.

Lehman Smith, board chairman, agreed that it will be a tight schedule next year, with only four teacher workdays in the second semester.

"It can create some problems if we'd get a week out for snow or out for different times," he said. "It doesn't leave many days after Christmas except for the Easter holidays.

"We may have some mad parents or some mad teachers."

Smith said he had favored schools starting after Labor Day as in years past, but noted that school systems were also allowed to extend the school year as long as necessary.

"That would be my preference," he said. "But that's not the way the state mandated."

The proposal said that make-up days will be the first available workdays following the day missed. Smith amended it to give the superintendent the discretion to determine other make-up days.

He said he believes the new calendar will work well.

"I think it's going to save from $5,000 to $8,000 in utilities," he said. "That's what they're projecting."

George Moye, board member, applauded the efforts of the calendar committee.

"The calendar is not an easy thing to do," he said. "I think this is a better calendar than last year."

Board member Rick Pridgen asked for patience and support from the public as the mandated changes are implemented.

"We're going to have to do the best we can," he said. "If we end up having a lot of days of inclement weather, we may be going to school on some Saturdays."

"Give the calendar a chance to work," Smith said. "This is what the teachers asked for; this is what the public asked for."