Officials propose Houston school calendars

jmink@macon.comDecember 9, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Classes in Houston County will begin July 31 for the 2014-2015 academic year if the Board of Education approves proposed district calendars.

The board on Monday received a draft of the district calendar for the next academic year and 2015-2016 during a work session. The board will vote Tuesday on the calendars during its regular meeting.

Under the proposed 2014-2015 calendar, the last day of school will be May 22, 2015. High school graduations would be May 22 and 23. The end of this academic year marks the end of a two-year calendar cycle, meaning board members also will vote on the 2015-2016 calendar.

In the proposed 2015-2016 calendar, school would begin Aug. 3, 2015, and would end May 25, 2016. Graduation would be May 27 and 28.

Planning the calendar is anything but easy, said Beth McLaughlin, director of community and school relations.

Officials plan around state testing dates, and they try to fit in about 90 days before Christmas. Additionally, officials try to end school before Memorial Day and start as close to Aug. 1 as possible. That strategy is based on a survey taken a few years ago. About 80 percent of those who took the survey approved of that model, McLaughlin said.

For the next academic year, the calendar process was especially tricky because Memorial Day falls a little early -- May 25. Additionally, Houston County students attend classes the required 180 days and employees work 190 days, which presents another calendar planning hurdle. These days, many school systems have cut those days due to budget concerns.

“I’m thankful we have 180 days of school and 190 days for employees,” McLaughlin said. “So few schools have that.”

Both calendars include a spring break around Easter, in addition to a week off for Thanksgiving and a weeklong fall break in October. Employees, students and parents have come to appreciate and expect those breaks, McLaughlin said.

Board Chairwoman Marianne Melnick applauded the calendar, adding she remembers a time not long ago when the school calendar did not include a fall break or a week for Thanksgiving.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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