Effingham County’s 2015-16 school year would start Aug. 6, end prior to Memorial Day, take spring break the last week of March and have Veterans Day as a holiday, under a calendar school system officials have proposed.
The calendar is posted on the home page of www.effinghamschools.com. The school district is taking public comment through Nov. 7.
After putting multiple calendar options up for votes online and at each school in recent years, school system officials opted this year to develop one calendar and revise it if need be. The proposed 2015-16 calendar closely resembles the one Effingham is using this year.
“This is a consensus of what we’ve heard before,” said Superintendent Randy Shearouse. “This has been the calendar of choice the last several years — basically the same, with very little variation — as far as what individual schools wanted, and it was developed based on comments we’ve received over time.”
Several of the comments posted online so far are in favor of the proposed calendar. The most commonly suggested changes are to start the school year later, move spring break later and have students in school on Veterans Day to observe its significance.
“Have school on Veterans Day and celebrate at school. Add that day onto winter break,” one person posted, and others shared that sentiment.
The Nov. 11 Veterans Day holiday would be less than two weeks prior to the week-long Thanksgiving break Nov. 23-27. The proposal also includes a two-day fall holiday (Oct. 19-20), a week for spring break (March 28-April 1) and two weeks off for Christmas (Dec. 21-Jan. 1).
“Veterans Day is fairly close to Thanksgiving, and even if we’ve had school on Veterans Day, we’ve always had different ceremonies in our schools to support our veterans and recognize them,” Shearouse said. “Either way, we’re going to make sure we recognize that our veterans and soldiers are very important for our community.”
Effingham County students would be off Good Friday, March 25, giving them a long weekend heading into spring break. Effingham’s spring break traditionally is scheduled around Easter.
“I would prefer to see spring break later in April even if it does not coincide with Easter,” one person commented online.
The problem with having an April spring break, according to school officials, is that would conflict with the calendar for state testing. Enough time must be allotted to give the tests, receive the test scores and offer remediation and retesting to students prior to the end of the school year, said Assistant Superintendent Greg Arnsdorff.
Under the proposed 2015-16 calendar, the school year would begin on a Thursday. The first day this year was a Wednesday.
One commenter opined that a mid-week start to the school year “throws kids off schedule.” However, Shearouse said the school district has found the opposite to be true, that a short week transitions students back to school more effectively.
“They have a weekend to recoup and get ready for the first full week of school,” he said. “It gives you an opportunity that weekend to get whatever supplies maybe you haven’t had a chance to buy, or make sure that this is what I need for this class, so most folks are pretty positive about that mid-week start.”
One proposed change from this year’s calendar is that schools will not have open houses the day before classes start. Open house would be on Aug. 3 for elementary schools and Aug. 4 for middle and high schools, with a day off before the start of school on Aug. 6.
“We listened to our teachers on that one,” Shearouse said. “We heard from our teachers that it was difficult to stay until 7 or whatever time (at open house) and then come back the very next day and start school.”
Public comment is being taken not just for the 2015-16 school calendar, but for 2016-17 as well. Both are posted on the school district’s Web site.
Following the lead of some other school systems, Effingham County developed the next two years’ school calendars at the same time. All comments received by Nov. 7 will be submitted to the Effingham County Board of Education for consideration.
“Hopefully before New Year’s we’ll have a calendar for the next two years,” Shearouse said, “which will be nice for folks if they want to plan way ahead on any vacations they may want to take.”
To comment on the proposed academic calendar, visit www.effinghamschools.com and scroll down through the announcements.