Crawford County cuts school year to 160 days

jwilliams@macon.comJuly 12, 2013 

Crawford County students are getting two more weeks of summer vacation.

The school board approved cutting the school year to 160 days Tuesday night, pushing the first day of school back to Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Superintendent John Douglas said the reduction in school days will cut overhead costs and is just one part of a necessary response to substantial cuts in state funding. Douglas said budget cuts were more than $1 million this year.

School board member Lee Sanders said this year’s school calendar will have 15 fewer days than last year’s, which had 175. Georgia law mandates instructional hours instead of days in school, and the Department of Education defines a school year as “180 days or the equivalent.”

Douglas said he hasn’t received any negative feedback about the announcement, but that the central office has fielded lots of calls from people calling to confirm the news or seeking details. Everyone involved in the school district received an automated phone notice that announced the new start date. The notice said teachers will return on Aug. 27 and the open house will be Aug. 29 from 4-7 p.m.

Sanders said details about adding time to the school day and designating other specific days to drop from the school calendar have not been worked out yet. He expects that they will be resolved in the next week or so. But he said the school day will probably start earlier and go later, and students will get out of school for summer vacation a little earlier in May than in years past.

“We just had to get the start date out there so parents could make arrangements,” he said.

Matt Cardoza, director of communications at Georgia Department of Education, said these types of changes to school calendars to cut operation costs are common these days. School districts with strains on their budget can save money on things such as electricity and buses with each day they remove from the calendar.

“It’s not unusual with these really tough times and declining budgets,” he said.

Cardoza said the majority of schools in Georgia actually have fewer than 180 days in their school years, and many of them have been cutting days in the past several years.

In fact, in the 2012-13 academic year, data from the Department of Education shows that just 31 percent of Georgia public school districts had 180 days of instruction. The majority, 56 percent, had 170 to179 days. Just 10 percent of school districts operated fewer than 170 days, the lowest being 144 days of instruction in Chattooga County in north Georgia.

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