Public Has Say On ’14-15 Calendar

Most Brooke County residents who attended a school calendar meeting this week prefer shorter breaks around Thanksgiving and Easter and a mid-August start date as opposed to earlier dates that month.

The Brooke County Board of Education is expected to consider that input and the preferences of a committee representing various staff members when adopting the 2014-15 calendar at Monday’s regular 6 p.m. meeting at the board’s office, 1201 Pleasant Ave.

It’s the first year county school boards have been required by the state Department of Education to seek input from their communities, and Brooke County school officials also set up an online survey for the public.

Rob Robinson, the school district’s facilities supervisor, said he was pleased with the 826 online responses as well as several letters. About 20 turned out for the second of two public meetings devoted to the subject.

Of the online responders, who participated anonymously, 53.8 percent identified themselves as parents; 21.9 percent as professional school personnel; and 12.7 percent were students. The rest included community members, businesses leaders, administrators and others.

Robinson presented three possible calendars based on the public input and preferences stated by the staff committee. He said because votes for an Aug. 18 or Aug. 25 start date for students were very close, calendars were developed for each. Aug. 4 and 11 also were options but received support from just 8.8 percent and 15.7 percent, respectively.

In addition to the Aug. 18 start date, Calendar A includes a three-day break around Thanksgiving (Wednesday through Friday), a three-day break around Easter (Thursday, Friday and Monday) and two-week Christmas break. The last day of school for students would be May 29 unless time had to be made up for cancellations, two-hour delays or early dismissals.

Calendar C, with the Aug. 25 start date, would have the same Thanksgiving and Easter breaks, drop two days from the two-week Christmas break and tentatively end June 3 for students.

A third calendar, Calendar B, would start Aug. 18, include full weeks off for Thanksgiving and Easter breaks, drop two days from the two-week Christmas break and tentatively end May 29 for students.

Brian Ferguson, the board’s vice president, said starting the school year later in August gives high school athletes in fall sports more time for summer practice, which state regulations prohibit from starting earlier than Aug. 4.

Robinson noted each proposed calendar had to include 180 days of instruction required by the state and an option for making up not only days canceled for inclement weather but time lost to delays and early dismissals.

Robinson added beginning next year, county school districts will be able to extend the school year up to the end of June to make up for cancellations, delays and early dismissals.