Newton BOE approves balanced calendar for 2009-10 school year

COVINGTON - The Newton County School System is expected to continue to operate from a balanced calendar for at least the next school year.

During a Tuesday night combined work session and monthly meeting, the Newton County Board of Education members unanimously approved a recommendation from NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley to use a balanced calendar for the 2009-10 school year.

The calendar is similar to the current one the system used this year and for the past several years; it has teachers reporting to school July 27 for preparation and professional learning and has students returning Aug. 3 to begin the school year.

During the year, schools would close for fall break during the second week of October, a weeklong Thanksgiving break, a two-week-long holiday break in December and January, a weeklong winter break in February and a weeklong spring break in April.

The calendar also has three student early release days for teacher professional learning days, as well as breaks and early release days for parent conferences and other holidays.

Students would attend school until May 28, the last day of the 2009-10 school year, and teachers would work until June 2 for post-planning.

Earlier this school year, the school board and school system solicited feedback from school councils, teachers forums and the community regarding four separate proposed calendars that a system committee developed - the balanced calendar, a mid-August start date calendar, a start after Labor Day calendar and a four-day school week calendar.

The board received overwhelming approval of the balanced calendar from the teacher forum, school council and online survey results; 20 out of 21 teacher forum groups, all 16 school council groups and more than 61 percent of 733 online votes requested the balanced calendar, according to results from NCSS.

The teacher forum at Ficquett Elementary School was the only school group that requested the four-day school week calendar, as did more than 16 percent of the online votes; more than 10 percent of online votes showed an interest in the mid-August start date calendar and more than 12 percent of the online votes wanted the start after Labor Day calendar.

In the past, several school board members have discussed the four-day calendar as an option to save on fuel costs and other costs, but in November the board said state law would have to be changed in order for the school system to allow this calendar or the school system would have to be granted special permission from the state legislature or the Georgia Department of Education.

"We appreciate the input we've had and the comments that have come in, not only from the school councils but on the Web site, too," Whatley said Tuesday.

The board votes on a new school calendar each year.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.