Despite passionate opposition from parents and teachers, the Marshall County Board of Education voted Tuesday to maintain a modified calendar for schools in Cameron.
About 40 Cameron residents let out a collective groan of disapproval and stormed out of the room after board President Roger Lewicki and members Lori Kestner and Thomas Gilbert voted in favor of the modified calendar, while Beth Phillips opposed and John Miller abstained from voting.
For nearly an hour prior to the vote, Cameron residents gave a list of grievances regarding the schools' calendar, which operates on a separate schedule from other schools in the county. The Cameron calendar has students at the elementary and high schools there starting class at the beginning of August and finishing in June. There are several extended breaks throughout the year, including weeks for hunting season and spring break.
Some of their concerns included teachers having a more difficult time keeping students focused. Some also said it is more difficult to stay on schedule with the additional breaks. Others pointed out that students who are involved in sports must continue practicing during their breaks to keep up with the season.
Meeting attendees applauded after Cameron resident Sarah Burge tearfully pronounced that the calendar was making it impossible for her family to vacation together because of the shortened summer breaks.
"Summer is a time kids get to play outside and just be kids," Burge said. "Why should we take that away? Put us on the same calendar as the rest of the county."
"My question is if this (modified) calendar is better, then why don't other schools in the county want it for their own?" Cameron resident Sharon Hall inquired.
After going behind closed doors for a second time to "call personnel individuals in," board members voted twice to approve the calendar after further discussion with residents.
"I apologize for the lack of communication," Miller said. "The objective of a calendar is to minimize conflicts ... and for communication to be ongoing."
The modified calendar was originally introduced in 2009, when the district was awarded a state Innovation Zone Grant for up to $50,000 to fund the information gathering process. After district officials held meetings with parents and teachers, the calendar was implemented two years ago.
In other business, the board also approved the hiring of John Marshall High School Principal Corey Murphy as the new assistant superintendent of schools following the first executive session of the evening. He replaces Wayne Simms, who will retire at the end of the school year. Murphy is currently principal of John Marshall High School.