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Parents getting their say on school year calendar
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Parents of Effingham County students can offer their opinion on which calendar the school system should adopt for the 2014-15 academic year.

School officials are considering three slightly different calendar options for 2014-15. The Effingham County Board of Education will take into account feedback from the community and school teachers and staff in making its decision.

Parents have until Nov. 8 to complete the online survey at Survey takers are asked to select their top two calendar choices and provide comments.

“We’ve normally gone with the popular choice,” Superintendent Randy Shearouse said. “We want to know what people think, and we try to change the calendar each year based on what the comments are.”

The school year begins on a Monday (Aug. 4) on one calendar and a Thursday (Aug. 7) on the other two. The final day of class ranges from May 21 to May 27.

The main factor in determining the calendar starting and ending dates, Shearouse said, is the testing window for the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test. Nine days must be set aside for the CRCT, and the state requires it to be given between March 30 and May 1.

“You hate to say it’s because of testing, but it is,” Shearouse said. “A main reason you start earlier, in August, is so you can get a lot of material covered before you have to give the CRCT. If you started at Labor Day, you could have five or six weeks of school left after the kids have taken the test.”

The CRCT testing window also impacts when spring break is scheduled. Two of the calendars have spring break March 28-April 5 (Easter Sunday), with students returning to class on April 6 and beginning the CRCT on April 14.

The other option is to begin spring break on Good Friday and continue through the week after Easter. Students would return on April 13 and begin the CRCT on April 15.

“What you run into there,” Shearouse said, “if you give them Good Friday and the week after, you don’t have but a couple days before they start the CRCT. A lot of teachers would rather have a week before starting the CRCT.”

The calendars have some other variations on breaks and holidays, such as how many days are in fall break or winter break and whether students are in school on Veterans Day or Memorial Day. However, all three options include a full week off for Thanksgiving and two weeks for Christmas.

Having a week-long break at Thanksgiving was a request the school district heard “over and over” from parents, Shearouse said. Another was for schools not to host open houses on Wednesday because it conflicts with church activities.

In response to that, open houses are scheduled on a Monday and Tuesday in two of the calendar options and Tuesday and Thursday in the other.

“We want folks to give their opinion and their comments,” Shearouse said. “It may not make a difference this year for next year’s calendar because we have the three choices, but we do look at that for future calendars.”

To share your opinion

Visit by Nov. 8 and complete the online survey. Select your top two calendar choices and provide comments.