The Effingham County Board of Education has approved the school calendars for the next two years after making a few tweaks.
Adding St. Patrick’s Day as a school holiday, moving fall break a week earlier to coincide with Columbus Day and pushing back the 2017 spring break to April to include Easter were among the revisions the school board adopted after weighing input from the public and the superintendent’s advisory committee.
Fall break is a five-day weekend, starting with a student holiday and teacher planning day on a Friday and continuing through the following Tuesday. With fall break shifted to Columbus Day weekend, students will be off Oct. 9-13 in 2015 and Oct. 7-11 in 2016.
“A lot of federal employees do have Columbus Day as a holiday,” said Superintendent Randy Shearouse. “We were able to move fall break back to that weekend, which I think will be beneficial for all. We felt that parent-teacher conferences would be fine a week earlier.”
The next two years’ calendars each include a two-week break for Christmas, one week off for Thanksgiving and spring break, and a four-day weekend for winter break. Labor Day, Veterans Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day are school holidays.
A new holiday for Effingham County schools will be St. Patrick’s Day. The rationale, according to Shearouse, is that a large number of students already take the day off to partake in Savannah’s festivities.
“We just have so many students that do miss that day,” he said. “I know, (as principal) at Sand Hill Elementary, half of our students did miss that day to attend the parade.”
Board member Beth Helmly agreed with having St. Patrick’s Day as a holiday in 2017, when it falls on a Friday and can be part of a three-day weekend. However, she questioned it being a day off on the 2016 date, a Thursday.
Helmly pointed out students will be off that Thursday, then return to school for one day, take the weekend and have a second consecutive four-day week. Spring break in 2016 will begin with Good Friday.
“That’s basically just a week before spring break starts,” Helmly said of the St. Patrick’s holiday. “To me, it just disrupts two weeks of school.”
Shearouse responded, “It’s not optimal, I agree with you.”
For the following year, the board of education initially included St. Patrick’s Day as part of spring break. However, school officials said several people asked for the 2017 spring break to coincide with the later date for Easter, April 16.
Spring break for the 2016-17 school year will be the week prior to Easter. The holiday will continue through the day after Easter.
“We do have Monday (after Easter off), so folks that are traveling could have a day to get back into town before school started on Tuesday,” Shearouse said.
The school board previously discussed the possibility of not having middle and high school open houses on the same night. That wound up not being part of the approved calendars, but Shearouse said “that could be changed easily later” if the board is so inclined.
The 2015-16 school year will start Aug. 6 and end May 25. The following year, classes will start Aug. 4 and conclude May 26.
The 2015-16 calendar includes two teacher planning days between the final day of classes and the weekend of high school graduations. However, the 2016-17 schedule has just one post-planning day — on Memorial Day.
“We usually give teachers the option to come do the final planning day Tuesday or Monday, since that is Memorial Day,” Shearouse said. “The impression I received from superintendent’s advisory committee was that most teachers have their work completed, and one day was enough of post-planning.”
See the calendars
Take a look at the Effingham County School System’s calendars for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years at www.effinghamschools.com.