Board OK's traditional calendar




Board members reviewed and approved the 2014-15 school calendar at Monday's USD 457 Board of Education meeting.

Each year, a calendar committee consisting of teachers, administrators, parents and community members, develops both traditional and alternative calendar proposals.

Renee Scott, associate principal at Garden City High School, sat on the committee and presented its recommendation to the board Monday night.

"The traditional calendar won with 392 votes to 237, so it was a little tighter of a vote than in the past, but still, a clear majority went with traditional calendar," Scott told board members.

The alternative calendar would have dismissed students two hours early every Friday for teacher work time.

While the traditional calendar is similar to the current school year's calendar, Scott said there were two main changes.

"This year, we had four new teacher inservice and/or workdays and five all-staff days at the beginning of the year. Next year, we plan to have three new teacher inservice/work days and four all-staff days at the beginning of the year, so we've cut or reduced that by one, and then spread that out a little bit more throughout the year," Scott said. "For example, on Sept. 26 of next year, our new teachers will have an additional inservice day that was cut from the beginning of the year. The calendar committee discussion was, 'We throw so much at them (teachers) the first of the year,' and then after they've had about a month, six weeks to experience everything, they have a lot more questions or need to be reinforced. So that day will be a good time to ask them, 'OK what are you seeing that we need to provide you more support with?'"

Another change to the traditional calendar is the addition of an inservice day on May 4, to be used for professional development.

"And the discussion around that was, we do so much throughout the year with testing and gathering data, but we never end the year with a good review or look at the data and say, 'What can we still do this last month of school,' and then more importantly, 'How can we use this data to start off the year more effectively in terms of helping with student achievement,'" Scott told board members. "We're going to try it. We haven't tried that before. But those are the main two changes to the traditional draft that was voted on by all staff."

Classes for the current school year started Aug. 19, 2013. On the calendar for next year, the first day of school is Aug. 13.

Board member Lara Bors motioned for approval of the calendar at Monday night's meeting.

"I would like to make a motion to adopt it, since it is a traditional calendar, and it was so overwhelmingly approved by the teachers. I know this was just a first reading, and we could probably table the motion, but I know, as a parent, I would like to know when my kids are starting school sooner than later," Bors said.

Superintendent Rick Atha also recommended that the board approve the calendar.

"I can support the recommendation of the teachers on the calendar that was selected, so it would be my recommendation that you approve the traditional calendar as presented," adding that the sooner they approved it, the better it would be for families and teachers, as well as the district, in terms of planning. "There is a lot of work that needs to be done through technology to get this calendar going for next year. There's a lot of planning that goes into it."

The board unanimously approved the proposed calendar for the 2014-15 school year.

Board members also heard a presentation on the state of Garden City High School's academies and about a phonics program being used by Georgia Matthews Elementary School.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. March 14.

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