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    Organization: Georgia Association of Educators     Date: 2/19/2018


  Cobb school board members express support for new calendars  

(Thursday,10/12/2017 ©  Marietta Daily Journal)

MARIETTA Cobb school board members on Wednesday expressed support for Superintendent Chris Ragsdales proposed calendars for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

Ragsdales proposal would move the first day of school back to August 1, a day later than students started this year.

This seems to please the most people from my community, said board member Susan Thayer. We know whos opposed to it and whos not, and this seems to please the most. Is not going to please all it doesnt totally please me but again, Im just trying to do what the majority of my community wants.

A final vote to approve calendars will be held at the boards Oct. 26 meeting and Ragsdale said hes optimistic about his calendars chances of being approved.

Were not going to have a calendar that pleases everybody, but at least this one gets us back into August, he said following the work session. It also maintains the breaks.

Ragsdale also suggested the district implement an Aug. 1 start date for each school year going forward, and possibly even approve the calendar up to five years out so board members dont have to revisit the issue so often.

Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators, spoke in favor of the calendar, which offers shorter summers and more frequent breaks.

Cobbs teachers, she said, were thrilled with the calendar and the time it gives them to recoup and catch up on work.

It addresses everything that we wanted, she told the board. Is the perfect start date, perfect end date and we love the breaks.

Keeping the calendar the same in the future, Jackson said, would allow parents and teachers more time to plan their vacations in advance.

Thayer said residents in her district have been bending her ear on the calendar issue since before she got elected.

I hear everything, she said. Some people want to start in mid-August. Some people want a shorter winter break. Some people want to do away with fall break. Everybody wants something different but the main thing I hear is in support of this calendar. People want the breaks.

Thayer said the difference between this years July 31 start date and next years Aug. 1 proposal is mostly psychological.

Is like a line in the sand and they dont want us to cross it, she said.

Board members said they received pushback from parents this year telling them they went too far with the July 31 start date, and Cobbs business leaders expressed concerns that shorter summers could impact businesses that hire students during the summer.

An online petition to push back this years start date received more than 12,000 signatures.

Petitioners raised concerns about the summer heat, increased electric bills and parents having to find childcare during the proposed six weeks of vacation staggered throughout the school year.

Ragsdale said the calendar proposal was created using input from parents, students and staff members.

Like this school year, students would have six breaks: a week off in late September, a week off for Thanksgiving, two weeks off over Christmas and New Years, a week off in February and a week off in April. The school year would wrap up May 22, 2019.