School Calendar Committee Convenes: Seeking Input

UPDATE: This was sent out via k-12 Alerts from the school system (Tues, 9-18)
Dear Friends of DeKalb County Schools,

After hours of collaboration and discussion by a team of parents, teachers, principals and administrators, the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) Calendar Committee has released two calendar options for public review.

The first, a traditional calendar, reflects a start date of Aug. 12 and an end date of May 23. DCSD has historically adopted the traditional calendar model.

The second, a balanced calendar, begins the school year on Aug. 5 and ends on May 29, but has an additional week of vacation in each semester. Balanced calendars are growing in popularity and are utilized by other districts including Rockdale County Public Schools and the City Schools of Decatur.

Both calendars have 180 school days for the students and an additional 10 days for the teachers, comprised of nine work days and four two-hour teacher conference nights.

Among other considerations is a weekly one-hour early release in order to allow for professional development for all teachers and administrators.

“We know that in order to provide the best possible education for our students, our teachers must also be life-long learners,” said Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson. “These professional learning opportunities will help our staff help our children.”

The calendars will be available for public comment until Sept. 26. Community members may also participate in a brief survey to gauge the level of support for each calendar as well as the early release day. The proposed calendars are [available at the DCSS website, under the News tab, and in the blogs FILES tab above]. To participate in the survey, click here . The survey also is available in Spanish here .

+++ This came to us earlier via the Aha! Community News in Dunwoody:

I have had the opportunity to work with DeKalb County School personnel* over recent weeks to draft calendar options for the 2013 – 2014 school year. The calendar committee has been a mixture of teachers, local school administrators, county office administrators and parents representing all districts in the county.

We have developed two calendar options – traditional (similar to the calendar we have followed in recent years) and balanced (earlier start, later finish and longer breaks during the year). Stakeholder input and comments are needed for review and consideration prior to the calendar committee presenting recommendations to the Superintendent who will then present options and a recommendation to the Board of Education for review and approval.

There are a number of factors that affect calendaring including number of instructional days, state mandated test dates, and synchronized Spring Break dates with surrounding systems.

Another development that you will want to be aware of that the Superintendent is giving strong consideration to for the 2013-2014 academic year is a 1 hour early release on a weekly basis. This would be implemented at all levels (elementary, middle, high) across the board. The Superintendent feels that this time is critical in order to best provide professional development opportunities that better equip teachers in order to deliver quality education in the classroom. If you feel strongly about the shape/form that professional development could take (1 hour early release each week, half day monthly instead of 1 hour weekly, late start instead of early release), your voice needs to be heard.

It is critical that we receive input from stakeholders regarding these options. I would like to ask that you provide input and feedback in two distinct ways. First, and most important, you have an opportunity on the DCSS website (http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us) to review the options and submit feedback there. This opportunity for your direct input is scheduled to begin Monday, September 17. The window for review of the calendar and submit any comments will be open through Wednesday, September 26 @ 5:00 PM. This is your most critical avenue for feedback.

Secondly, I would like to hear directly from you as well. Please send an email to Calendar@AtlantaRealEstateMatters.com with your thoughts and ideas on these options, or other matters that you think should be taken into consideration as a calendar is presented to the Superintendent and then to the Board for approval.

CLICK HERE to view the DeKalb School System website.
*Trenton Arnold and Stacey Stepney are chairing the committee from the school board administration.

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56 Responses to School Calendar Committee Convenes: Seeking Input

  1. According to Ty’s article above, Gene (Walker) says he hasn’t heard from parents about the balanced calendar. I think we should send him an email or two or two hundred.

  2. Perplexed says:

    Has anyone even noticed the mistake in the balanced calendar? Sept. 4 is listed as a staff development day but Sept. 20 is in “orange” which in the key stands for staff development?

  3. Dekalbite2 says:

    Race to the Top money should never have been accepted if it did not result in a significant decrease in class sizes and an increase in number of personnel instructing students.

  4. PolitiMom says:

    The early release is also already decided. In the survey, the questions states “what is the best day for early release?” and the only options are Tues/Wed/Thurs. There is no option to choose NO, so they can’t be forced to say “90% of respondents do not want early release.” The way the leading question is written, they can say with confidence “75% of respondents say they are in favor of an early release day on Tuesday” What a crock. Decision made. More time out of the classroom.

  5. concernedmom30329 says:

    You can actually choose not to answer that question and still be able to submit the survey. Doesn’t mean that the data will be accurately reflected in her report.

  6. Murphey says:

    In today’s AJC front page article about the DCSD calendar, it states that “The lost hour would be made up by starting a few minutes earlier each day or by getting out a little later the rest of the week.”, quoting a DCSD spokeswoman.

    THIS SOUNDS LIKE TEACHERS HAVING TO WORK AN EXTRA HOUR FOR FREE!!

    NOWHERE in the DCSD info does it state that the lost hour will be made up.
    This is a significant detail. Why doesn’t DCSD give us the whole story?

  7. Ned says:

    Interesting that no one in power (and this isn’t exclusive to DeKalb) even seems to broach the idea of starting school in September rather than August.
    I guess because our educational attainment in GA is so much better than the rest of the US we shouldn’t consider how things work in other states. 😉

  8. another comment says:

    Anyone can vote as many times as they want on Survey Monkey. You can also identify yourself as who ever you want to claim you are. I tried to help you out and voted for the traditional Calendar about 20 times. I said I was each of the different categories. I don’t live in Cobb, but I used to work for a major Dekalb employer who the balanced Calander would have negative effects on. Especially for the lower graded employees. You simply can not as an employer have all your employees ask off for the same week. It is bad enough with Christmas and Thanksgiving.

  9. teacher/taxpayer says:

    @Murphey: You are right. But then again, many of us are already working much more than an extra hour a week right now. I work on weekends because I am too exhausted to work in the evenings at home. And while we are forbidden to work on furlough days, many do work at home on those days too. It is a chance to catch up! Extra work is the only way to even come close to meeting all the idiotic requirements being placed on teachers.

  10. September says:

    Starting earlier to make up that lost hour? If you are in an SFA school, that earlier start might mean that your children might be starting class every day by 7:30 AM? Is anyone else concerned that we are expecting our youngest children to wait on dark streets to catch school busses that pick up before 7:00 AM?

  11. Weary worker says:

    Where’s the data supporting the doctoral programs? Why does any school need someone with a Ph.D teaching third grade? Most graduate programs in education have the tail wagging the dog. If it were not for the salary increased tied to the degree these programs would not exist as they do. A business or a quality private school would never follow this plan.

  12. TuckerKmom says:

    Bus for 8:00 elementary start picks up at 6:45 so they can be to a school early enough for breakfast. Most kids in our neighborhood only ride home, not to school because of the early hour. Bus ends up wih a out 10 kids in the am. Imagine an earlier start!

  13. wondering says:

    My understanding was that many elementary schools had actually start the school day earlier this year (7:45 instead of 8:00) due to a state rule about 4th and 5th graders having a required minimum daily instruction time. How is letting kids out an hour early going to work with this?

  14. dekalbite2 says:

    @ wondering
    It appears that they will be asking teachers to work that extra time into the school day with minutes added before and after school, and then also be required to still stay for staff development after the students are gone – all without additional pay. Please remember that NON TEACHING employees are not being asked to increase their day for no pay. DCSS has ensured that it pays to NOT be a teacher in DeKalb. Is it any wonder that we have teachers looking at positions outside the classroom and finding them so attractive? Is that good for kids?

  15. Tucker Guy says:

    @teacher/taxpayer I am sorry to read how you feel so early in the year.

    I heard Dr. Atkinson speak in favor of a balanced calendar twice last spring. What the calendar committee is calling a balanced calendar is not what Dr. Atkinson wanted last spring. So in at least that one thing the public feedback has already been heard. Dr. Atkinson wanted the summer break to be 6 to 8 weeks long.

  16. concernedmom30329 says:

    Tucker Guy
    But the summer after the 2013-2014 school year coiuld easily be shorter when you look at the ending date of the “balanced choice” for that year. She is working us into a late July/Early August start.

    Using Decatur, Marietta and Rockdale as examples is a joke. those are systems that have healthy boards and good superintendents.

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