The Bibb County Board of Education heard a presentation Thursday night about the possibility of implementing a year-round calendar, but many of them came away with questions about implementing it for the 2013-14 academic year.
Jane Drennan, deputy superintendent for teaching and learning, presented the school boards Instructional Services Committee with a proposed calendar that would start the next academic year on July 25, but still keep the students in school for 180 days.
The idea of a year-round school calendar was part of Superintendent Romaine Dallemands Macon Miracle Strategic Plan. Drennan noted several studies in her presentation that suggest students would benefit from added instruction rather than to have a long gap over the summer in which students receive no instruction.
According to the proposal, the school year is split into four quarters that are each between 44 and 46 days long.
Several board members said that while they dont necessarily object to the changes, they dont find them practical to implement for this summer, noting that many parents wont have adequate time to make adjustments to summer plans. Some board members said theyve already received messages from parents expressing their concerns.
Board member Lester Miller asked if teachers were part of the task force, noting that their schedules would be affected as well, even though they would work the same 190-day schedule they have now. Drennan answered that some teachers did work on the proposed calendar, but mostly it was done by administrators from across the district.
Miller also noted a shorter summer could deny students the benefit of programs such as the Governors Honors Program, summer internships, jobs and travel.
Board member Lynn Farmer added that she has heard from parents who already have made summer travel arrangements that would be affected should the new calendar be implemented. She said local day care businesses have expressed their concern that they may not have the proper amount of staff necessary with a new calendar.
But board member Tom Hudson said Bibb County schools are ranked near the bottom of the state in graduation rates and that radical changes needed to be made.
Our children cant wait another year, he said. Were already at the bottom.
Several board members also questioned how much changing the calendar would cost. Drennan said the task force didnt have those estimates.
In the past, Bibb school officials have said the year-round calendar would help address a summer learning lag after being out of school for an extended period.
The proposed calendar includes a break from Sept. 30 until students return to class Oct. 15. Students are also off during the entire week of Thanksgiving.The last day of class for students before winter break is on Dec. 19, and they would return to class Jan. 13. Spring break starts on March 20, and students wouldnt return to school until April 15. The last day of class for Bibb students is June 18, with graduation on June 20-21, 2014. Students are then off for the rest of the month and return in late July.
School officials also plan to study the issue and seek feedback on year-round schools during the next few months, according to school board documents. The schools public information department is scheduled to release information about the plan to parents next week.