Proposed new Columbia Co. school calendar causes concern for board member

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

A school board member in Columbia County has serious concerns with the proposed new calendar. The board sent out surveys to parents to vote on a new start date; August 15th was chosen.

Board member Mike Sleeper says that date could lead to teachers cutting class.

The new date is about two weeks later than the current start.

Adding more time in the summer means taking away time from mid-year breaks...so the worry is teachers may take their vacations anyway, leading to lower test scores.

"We usually travel during Christmas...and that will cut our family time short," says middle school teacher Christy Van Meter. She likes the long vacations, but she also shares Sleeper's concern...because studies show students score better when they have the same teacher in each class all year.

"A substitute teacher isn't the same as a real teacher...the quality isn't as good," says Sleeper.

But Sleeper says the new calendar is a better option than the current one.

This year's early August start date can get in the way of sports and vacations.

The first day of the new calendar is August 15 with a total of 26 days off during the year. It ends May 22, and there's no fall break.

"I'll miss that break, but at least we don't have that extensive review in January," says Van Meter.

With finals out of the way, Van Meter says she can move onto other material after the break...and the students learn more.

Another board member, Regina Buccafusco, thinks the new date is a good compromise and won't cause teachers to miss class.

"They're obviously not there cause they want to make a lot of money. They're dedicated to the children," Buccafusco says.

Sleeper says giving teachers incentives to come in every day could help keep them in class, solving the problem.

The new date will go up for a final vote on the 28th, and requires a majority to pass. If it gets approval, it will go into effect for the 2007-2008 school year.


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