Effingham County students will take spring break the week after Easter next school year, but won’t have to begin the CRCT the same week they return from the break.
The Effingham County Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously approved the 2014-15 academic calendar, which includes a full week of classes between the end of spring break and the start of the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.
The school board adopted a hybrid version of the calendar options voted on at each school and online. The majority of Effingham’s 13 schools preferred to have spring break prior to Easter weekend, while the most popular choice among online voters was taking spring break after Easter but starting the CRCT on the students’ third day back in school.
Students will be off Good Friday, April 3, and have spring break April 6-10. They will return to school April 13, but will not take the CRCT until April 20-24 and 27-30.
“There’s no perfect calendar, but this hopefully meets the needs of the majority of folks at the school level and also the community level,” said Superintendent Randy Shearouse.
“I agree,” said school board Chairman Lamar Allen. “I think it’s probably as good as you’re going to get by merging the two. It answers a lot of questions.”
The 2014-15 calendar also includes a week off for Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas/New Year’s and four-day weekends for fall break (Oct. 17-20) and winter break (Feb. 13-16). Classes will begin Aug. 6 and end May 22, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.
The challenge to scheduling spring break, Shearouse said, is the testing window for the CRCT. Nine days must be set aside for the CRCT, and the state requires it to be given between March 30 and May 1.
“Our teachers really feel like we do need some time between spring break and the CRCT,” Shearouse said. “We do feel like we can give a week in-between, and everyone’s happy about (being off) Good Friday and then Easter and then having the five days after Easter.”
The testing schedule also necessitates the early-August start to the school year, according to Shearouse. He said several parents asked on the online survey why classes can’t start after Labor Day.
Shearouse explained that starting school in August enables teachers to cover as much material as possible before students take the CRCT. If classes were to start after Labor Day, he said, students would still be in school for five or six more weeks after taking the CRCT.
“We don’t want that much down time occurring,” Shearouse said, “but we need some time to allow our kids remediation (if necessary) so they can re-take the test before summer.”
Another suggestion parents made this year was not to have school open houses on a Wednesday, in order to avoid conflicts with church activities. Consequently, open houses will be on a Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 4-5, followed by the first day of class that Wednesday.
The 2014-15 school holidays include Labor Day (Sept. 1) and Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 19), but not Veterans Day. However, Shearouse pointed out that several Effingham County schools hold Veterans Day observances.
“Our schools do a great job recognizing our veterans,” he said. “Certainly we will recognize that day as an important day in our nation’s history.”