Parents choose August 15 start date for Columbia County schools; board will consider that date

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The votes are in. Parents spoke out about the new Columbia County school calendar, and board members heard your voices Tuesday night.

After months of discussion and debate, a majority of parents voted for the middle ground...August 15th. They got a chance to speak their mind on a survey that was out for two weeks in February, and the board unanimously agreed to consider that date.

Parent Karen O'Gorman is one of about 5,000 who cast a vote.

"I'm thrilled the board listened to what the parents had to say...since almost 2/3 said we started too early," she says.

Too early...because the average high temperature near the start of August is in the nineties, which some believed contributed to Lakeside High student Chelsea Collins' death before an autopsy confirmed it was unrelated.

Parent John Meyers still wanted a change.

"I think they made the right decision."

The survey went out February 12th with three options. The first and least popular was an August 23rd start date with the last day on June 4th. Another option, and closest to the current, was an August 6th start and May 16th end.

"Option B was the most popular choice," says Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price.

Price announced the big winner: the middle ground, starting August 15th and ending May 22, putting exams before the holidays.

Martinez Elementary principal Michelle Sherman still favors the early date since it has the most breaks throughout the year.

"Discipline problems tend to increase when you have long periods of time without breaks," she says.

But the middle choice is the next best thing for board member Regina Bucafusco and other still has a winter break, three teacher workdays, and 12 days for the holidays.

"I think the middle date is a good compromise," says Bucafusco.

"I know there may be some people unhappy because they voted A or C...but B is a good compromise," says O'Gorman.

A compromise that about five thousand parents have reached.

Now that the school board knows what you want, they want to research what that date means for the system before they make it official.

If the new schedule is approved at the next board meeting on March 28, it will go into effect for the 2007-08 school year.