COVINGTON -- Newton County students and teachers will have a similar calendar next school year as it was this school year.
The Newton County Board of Education unanimously approved a calendar option with a shortened fall break, a week-long Thanksgiving break and a full two-week long holiday break at its monthly work session last week.
The option was proposed to the school board by Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews after Dr. Sheila Thomas led a committee comprised of one representative from each school and several central office administrators that discussed several preferences for a calendar.
The committee based options on several factors -- they wanted students in class for the PSAT testing date in October and for the first semester to end before the holiday break in December; elementary teachers wanted four preplanning days and one post-planning day and secondary teachers wanted three preplanning days and two post-planning days; some members wanted the entire week of Thanksgiving off and the entire week for fall and winter breaks; they wanted two early release days for parent conferences and four for professional learning in each month except for August, December and April; and they wanted a calendar with at least 178 student days.
The approved calendar has the first day of school for students on Thursday, Aug. 4, and the last day on Wednesday, May 23; elementary teachers would begin on Friday, July 29 and end Thursday, May 24, and secondary teachers would begin on Monday, Aug. 1 and end of Friday, May 25.
A Labor Day holiday on Sept. 5; early release days for parent conferences on Friday, Oct. 7 and Feb. 17; early release days for professional learning on Friday, Sept. 2, Nov. 11, Jan. 13 and March 16; a teacher work day on Tuesday, Jan. 3 after winter break; a Martin Luther King holiday on Monday, Jan. 16; and a spring break from April 2 through 6.
"I like this calendar because it builds in professional learning time," Mathews has said. "We're serious about professional learning communities."
Fall break is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 19, through Friday, Oct. 21; a Thanksgiving break is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 21, through Friday, Nov. 25, and a holiday break is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 19, through Monday, Jan. 2.
Mathews has warned the school board members that even if they approve a calendar option then, it could change later this year if further budget cuts occur.