The Bibb County school board agreed Thursday to a blended school calendar for the 2013-2014 academic year but didnt immediately endorse a plan to begin year-round school in the fall of 2014.
The board unanimously approved next years calendar that will help the school district transition from a traditional calendar to a year-round schedule. The committee, however, tabled the 2014-2015 calendar proposal because of lingering questions by board members.
Deputy Superintendent Jane Drennan noted during the meeting that a year-round schedule -- in which students attend class for 45 days followed by vacations of 15 days each quarter -- is part of the Macon Miracle, a plan approved a year ago by the board to help improve Bibbs public schools.
Last month, board members put on hold a year-round proposal that would have meant year-round schools for the upcoming school year, because several members said the issue needed to be studied further. Administrators returned Thursday with two proposed two-year plans.
Option A, the blended option, is similar to the calendar Houston County schools use. That would go into effect for the 2013-2014 year followed by the year-round calendar the next year. Option B proposed a similar calendar to the one the district currently uses, followed by the year-round calendar.
Based on separate surveys from employees and the community, Drennan said, the majority of people asked favored Option A.
The board didnt dismiss going to a year-round calendar, but several board members, including Lester Miller, Thelma Dillard and Jason Downey, said theyve heard from several constituents who have concerns that need to be addressed before that happens.
However, board member Tom Hudson said he hadnt heard any concerns from his constituents and thinks the district should approve the calendar.
In the end, board member Wanda West proposed a compromise in which the committee approved the blended calendar for the 2013-2014 academic year while tabling the year-round proposal for the following year. The matter will be tabled until Drennan can answer board members questions.
Under the 2013-14 calendar approved Thursday, classes will begin Aug. 1 and end May 28. Students will get extended breaks in October and February, plus vacation during the week of Thanksgiving as well as traditional holidays and spring break.
In a separate presentation, the board unanimously approved switching to a daily, seven-period high school schedule for next year. Thats a change from the current four-by-four block scheduling the district has used since 2001-02.
During the scheduling presentation, administrators told board members that while the school day would remain on a 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. schedule, individual classes would run 50 minutes for the entire school year instead of the current 90-minute sessions for a semester in the block scheduling.
Students would get 9,000 minutes of instruction in the seven-period format instead of the current 8,100 minutes, and teachers would teach up to six classes a day with a planning period rather than three classes a day with a planning period.
Students also will need 24 credits to graduate instead of the current 28. Houston, Fulton, Henry and Monroe counties all use a seven-period school day.
The switch is expected to yield huge budget savings -- about $2.9 million in salaries and benefits by the end of the fourth year, officials said. Cumulatively over the four years, an estimated 39 positions would be eliminated in Bibb County high schools, mostly through attrition.
Jerri Hall, principal of Rutland High School and a member of the committee that examined the seven-period day, told the board that because of the amount of testing the state requires, teachers often lost valuable instruction time during block scheduling.
Officials told board members that by approving the change now, it would allow the district to implement the new class schedule by August.
Writer Andrea Castillo contributed to this report.