Summer fun will dip under new Cobb school calendar

As expected, the Cobb school board approved a balanced calendar that shortens summer for students in the county. In an acrimonious meeting Wednesday,  the board voted 4-3 in favor of the change for the next school year.

The Cobb school board plunged into a new calendar Wednesday that shortens the summer for its students

The Cobb school board plunged into a new calendar Wednesday that shortens the summer for its students

Under the  balanced calendar, school will start the first week of August and end right before Memorial Day. In exchange for the shortened summer break, school will be out for a week in September and in February, which working parents maintain will be hard to accommodate.

The board vote angered parents, many of whom felt betrayed by board members who campaigned on a later starting date for school and then changed their minds once presented with the arguments for a shorter summer and two mid-year breaks.

One outraged parent said she is considering private schools in Fulton County or homeschooling her kids.  Others, she said, are doing the same to avoid the change.

Among the reasons that parents gave in opposition to the balanced calendar:

– Test scores aren’t higher.

– It will be more expensive.

– Students can’t get summer jobs.

– Athletes have less time to practice.

Those in favor of the balanced calendar maintain it will reduce discipline issues, increase student morale and improve student achievement.

My own district – Decatur — will be on this same calendar next year.  A poster to my earlier entry on this issue served on the committee in my town to study school calendars . I think her comment is worth noting here:

You can have a balanced calendar for whatever reason you want, but improved achievement is not going to be a result of a different calendar. I was on a calendar committee and we did a lot of research on whether these calendars improve achievement. We looked at Henry County data which showed no improvement since their new calendar was enacted (they have had a balanced calendar for five years or so). We also looked at (nonbiased) university studies, which overwhelmingly showed fleeting or insignificant differences. Here is one study to look at … the most complete and unbiased one we could find….

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070811151449.htm

Our district is going to a balanced calendar next year primarily to use it as a recruiting tool and to give teachers and students a rest. Apparently teachers like it. We did a poll and most of our parents were against it (especially at the high school and middle school level) while most teachers/staff were for it. The admins were strongly for it.

What do you think?

356 comments Add your comment

Mark

November 11th, 2009
10:49 am

As a cobb parent with two young children I am against the balanced calendar. Summer vacation is already shorter than when I was a student and the extra weeks off in september and february force parents to take time off during the school year. The school board should represent the residents of cobb county not their own agenda.

Let's Communicate

November 11th, 2009
10:50 am

Just for the record. We support Abraham and the balanced calender. I sent an email expressing my preference. Did you?

Steve

November 11th, 2009
10:50 am

Just like the president, we only have to put up with it until the next election.

Meme

November 11th, 2009
10:51 am

Our school year has started at the first of August and ended before Memorial Day for several years. Cobb schools will do ok.

Atlanta_Tiger_Fan

November 11th, 2009
10:52 am

This is a very bad idea!! These kids are pushed harder than ever in school and they need a good summer break to relax and get ready for the next year. In addition, August is the hottest month of the year and school should not start until after Labor Day!

Diane

November 11th, 2009
10:54 am

Douglas County has done the same. We were shocked that school started August 3rd & let out May 30th. The kids barely get 9 weeks of vacation, far from the norm of a 3 month summer up North, returning to school after Labor Day.
It’s not just about what the kids want, it’s also about how it fits into parents schedules. The only concession would be to have more time off during the year, but with Cobb they still won’t get the entire week of Thanksgiving off. As parents we’re told to take our family vacation during the summer, but EVERY parent that has children can’t be off work during the summer or no one would be working.
If school gives kids time off each month spread out, it should lessen time missed from school.
I’m not surprised, as I do have neices and nephews in the Cobb District. I can only say that as usual, the school districts do NOT listen to parents, but it’s the parents and kids that are expected while out tax dollars pay those “in charge”. It’s a very backwards system.
I guess the meeting was really a rhetorical one.

Marie

November 11th, 2009
10:54 am

I don’t have a strong desire either way but given the arguments, I’m inclined to favor the new calendar. There is a lot of debate over whether a balanced calendar improves test scores (some studies show it does; others show statistically insignificant improvements) but I don’t think it would lower test scores. And in general, I do think that having a one week breather in September and February, would be a welcome break for the students. Many universities, including several ivy league ones, use this calendar and it seems to work pretty well.

Henry County Mom

November 11th, 2009
10:55 am

Cobb parents…get over it. Henry County starts back (usually) the first Monday in August and is out the Friday before Memorial Day. Henry County has been using this type of calendar for at least the last 4 to 5 years. The kids will be fine.

Cobb Resident

November 11th, 2009
10:56 am

OK, I’m a Cobb resident and parents and I support the balanced calendar. I realize the opposition is very vocal and organized, but I’d just like some of these people to realize that a lot of us Cobb parents DO support this calendar and also will be voting in the next election.

Smyrna Charter Supporter

November 11th, 2009
10:58 am

As a parent of a child that attends a school in Cobb County already under a balanced calendar, I love it. A shorter summer break makes it easier to get the kids back into Back-to-school mode, and everyone enjoys the breaks during the year as well, whether you travel or not.

Tina

November 11th, 2009
10:59 am

I know parents are very upset, but if the calendar included good days off not just ones that the board picked, it would be better. My district starts back 8/3 and isn’t out until the end of May, but the concession for a shorter summer wasn’t some odd weeks out that inconvenience us, the days off were added to each month literally to help alleviate kids missing days out of school. This means that when those days come up, we hang on knowing there will be time off soon. Also, the Holidays were extended. The entire week of Thanksgiving is given & Xmas vacation is also extended.
It’s great for the kids to get a break at least one day a month & the extra holiday time helps families so everyone doesn’t have to feel they have to feel stressed about taking it in the summer when maybe their job doesn’t allow that time off since everyone wants it. It makes it easier to visit family out of town too.
Parents should be included since these people have jobs because of their kids not in spite of them, but hopefully it will work out.

Summer fun will NOT dip

November 11th, 2009
11:00 am

Why is it that so many parents seem to think that 2 months is not enough for a summer vacation? Get real, people – my son is bored after about 6 weeks and could use some time off in September/February to catch up in subjects he needs tutoring in. I like this idea and Ms. Cash, you will be getting my vote in the next election.

Cobb Teacher

November 11th, 2009
11:00 am

Love it!! It is about time that the Board listened to the professionals in the classroom and not parents who are worried about summer jobs. Thank you!

Cobb parent

November 11th, 2009
11:02 am

To Mark- so the real reason you do not like the balanced calendar is that you do not want to have to take time off to spend with your child in Sept and Feb- would you have had to take time off in the summer? I, for one, am for the balanced calendar. It gives kids a much needed break!

K.G.

November 11th, 2009
11:02 am

The school board is supposed to represent the students, staff, parents and taxpayers – maybe we should poll the students, parents and taxpayers and see what percentage votes for a balanced calendar !! The school board members needed to listen to the students, parents and taxpayers of Cobb County, not just teachers (who perhaps live in Paulding county and want the school to have the same calendar). This calendar will not improve discipline or anything else. It has only disheartened parents and students who thought the board was representing them. I did express my thoughts to my Chairperson prior to the vote.

Henry county teacher

November 11th, 2009
11:04 am

Cherokee and Henry have been using this calandar for years. I wish Cobb didn’t. We always go to Disney during the week off in September, because they have great deals. Now it will be more crowded with those annoying Cobbians.

Cobb Spouse

November 11th, 2009
11:04 am

You Cobb parents need to get over yourselves… the teachers need the break more than the kids. Don’t worry, you’ll find your babysitting somewhere other than the schools during these two weeks.

Carrie

November 11th, 2009
11:05 am

Part of the problem with the extra weeks out during the school year, is that parents have to figure out where their kids will be when they’re at work. This was never considered. It creates extra daycare & scheduling problems. It’s not the same as having a set summer program for our children.

school bd watcher

November 11th, 2009
11:06 am

Schools up North do NOT have 3 month summer vacations. Schools in Connecticut go until about June 22 and return the Wed or so before Labor Day- just about 2 months off.

laura

November 11th, 2009
11:07 am

I think this article should have spoken with parents that support the decision. They make it sound like all the parents hate the decision and that’s not true. It’s much better to space things out. Two months is plenty and now they have extra time off at two other points in the year. It’ll save vacation money because you can take a week off during off season.

GT92

November 11th, 2009
11:08 am

Hey K.G., the Board did take a poll. I participated, did you?

http://www.cobbk12.org/generalinfo/calendars/ccsd_Calendars.aspx

Rachel

November 11th, 2009
11:08 am

To Cobb Spouse: your comment is extremely insensitive and ignorant! Parents are doing all they can esp. in this economy to make ends meet & to just change the calendar to YOUR benefit only thinking about the teachers needing a break makes no sense. The teachers get paid, but if they want to have the time off AND pay for the extra daycare costs for us then they can have the time off!
Parents have to schedule around the school year that does not include what parents want, and this is why you have jobs!!!!! Why is it that teachers and administrators tend to forget this?

Robin

November 11th, 2009
11:09 am

We had to swallow this same issue in Cherokee County a few years ago. Those opposed, as I was, were out-voted. We have learned to live with it. The teachers believe that shorter, more frequent breaks help the students retain more information. I wonder, though, how this could affect the tourism industry for Six Flags and White Water? Most of the employees are students, so will the parks have to limit their hours the entire, hot, month of August?

Atl Resident

November 11th, 2009
11:09 am

With all the mess and petty crime involving this current generation of kids, this might not be bad idea. And for those reasons listed for why parents are opposing the balanced calendar, do one simple thing to help the situation, get some balance at home first before blaming someone else cause that’s where it all starts.

Steve

November 11th, 2009
11:10 am

Considering they don’t do anything in school the first and last 2 weeks of the school year anyway they should let the kids have it off. My kids always come home talking about how they watched a movie or goofed off, so what is up with that?

GT92

November 11th, 2009
11:13 am

Rachel, please speak for yourself, not for all “parents.” I know plenty of parents that support the balanced calendar. Perhaps it is your comment that is “insensitive and ignorant.”

Cobbalicious

November 11th, 2009
11:13 am

I like the idea of one-week summer breaks in September, November (Thanksgiving), February and April (spring break). It breaks up the daily grind. Now, one of us works at home so, granted, we’re able to absorb school being out easier than households where both parents work out of the house. As posted by Summer Fun will NOT dip, my middle-schoolers hit boredom around week No. 6 of the summer, so it’s a welcome relief. C’mon, aren’t some of you parents pulling out your hair by July 22 anyway?

Parent of Three

November 11th, 2009
11:15 am

Interested statistics about test scores of students before and after summer break in the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. Essentially, kids from all different income families learned during the school year at the same rate, but kids from lower income families didn’t retain as much over the summer break as the kids from higher income families. (Perhaps higher income kids did more academic activities or camps over the summer???) Regardless of the reason, the lower income kids were shown to be “behind the eight ball” compared to the other kids at the start of the school year. Compounded over several years, this creates huge stratifications across the different income levels and just adds to the enormous challenge of the public education system.

Just Sayin'

November 11th, 2009
11:15 am

I thought when you had children, parents were supposed to do what was best for them… not the other way around?? Sounds like a lot of parents in Cobb don’t support it because it inconveniences THEM and THIER work or vacation schedules. If you’re having a hard time finding a “babysitter” for one week in Sept. or Feb., then AS A PARENT, isn’t this where hard decisions come in? I mean… that IS what parenting is about, right? Or is everything supposed to be easy? How about this – since our governor tried to teach us a lesson in time mangement (alcohol purchases on Saturday teach us that, remember for those of you who are against Sunday sales too?), how about you start looking for a day camp NOW, reserve your spot, and save the money instead of going out to dinner twice a week????

I know there was no way to foresee this when you were carrying these little angels for nine months, but… I’m sure you didn’t foresee colds, flu, chicken pox, the PB&J getting slid in the VCR, the baseball thru the window, the broken arm from learning to ride a bike…. I could go on, but I won’t.

I’m just sayin’.

James

November 11th, 2009
11:16 am

GUESS WHAT KIDS!!!! THANKS THE IDIOTS ON THE BOARD BECAUSE YOU WILL BE MISSING THE FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL IN AUGUST WHILE WE ENJOY WHAT LITTLE VACATION TIME WE HAVE TOGETHER WITH FAMILY. NOT SURE IF THAT WILL HELP YOUR TEST SCORES LIKE THEY SAY IT WILL BUT THATS WHAT WE ARE DOING, OH YEAH, SUMMER CAMP IS OUT BUT THERE WILL BE 2 MORE WEEKS DURING THE YEARS THAT YOU ARE LEFT HOME UNATTENDED AND UNEDUCATED. SOUND GOOD???

IT IS REALLY GETTING EMBARRASSING TO LIVE IN COBB COUNTY!

Atl Resident

November 11th, 2009
11:17 am

Cobb Spouse has a point with putting up with the kids. There are some parents out there who don’t give a crap. With all the mess and petty crime involving current generation of kids, this might not be a bad idea. And for all those reasons for opposing the calendar, it starts at home first, get some balance there, work together, before blaming everyone else. But this could be worse, it could be year round schooling like some other states.

Cobbalicious

November 11th, 2009
11:18 am

To Laura: Agree with your point. Although the calendar is “balanced,” the story was not … I understand the reporter was reflecting the emotion in the room, but there should have been an effort to point out that while there’s a vocal presence in the chamber, that may not be reflective of the widespread sentiment (as demonstrated by the comments here, for instance). The outcome of the vote was “expected,” so the writer could have done reporting before the meeting to gather the view from the other side.

Cobb Dad

November 11th, 2009
11:18 am

Yeah baby…Beach bound in September, Lower rates, still great weather!

Silent Majority

November 11th, 2009
11:20 am

James, speak for yourself. Someone who is educated should know how to post more professionally. I think this is a positive for Cobb County and I’m glad that the school board is more concerned about academic achievement than whether students have long enough summers. I agree with the other posters that most kids get bored around week 6 and very few summer programs run longer than 2 months.

Maureen Downey

November 11th, 2009
11:20 am

Cobbalicious, (Great screen name, by the way)
Cobb is home to many transplants who have family elsewhere in the country. I recently read a travel story that said most families choose August as the month to meet up at the beach or at grandmom’s house. With Northern schools going to to June 22, and Georgia schools starting Aug. 2 or 3, the window for family reunions has shrunk quite a bit.
Many of you don’t think parental desires or work schedules should be a factor, but our entire school system has been built around the job needs of the parents, starting with the family farm schedule.
If school calendars were really designed around academics rather than the needs of the adults in the system — whether parents or teachers — wouldn’t the calendars look a lot different than even the balanced calendar?
Maureen

Cobb Dad

November 11th, 2009
11:21 am

“Just like the president, we only have to put up with it until the next election…”

Yeah jack ass, let’s blame this on Obama too.

Darius

November 11th, 2009
11:22 am

I can only LOL at the teachers and their “we need a break” reasoning. Of course it should be pointed out that only 50% of the teachers responded to the survey and only 51% of those who responded supported the balanced calendar. So, these comments are directed at the whiners.) I do not think they realize how insulting it is to the rest of us who work 12 months a year 40+ hrs a week with little to no say in when we are required to be in the office for a 9 month employee to talk about burnout and needing more breaks.

It is great to see the Cobb County School Board to decide to follow the lead of Cherokee and Henry counties … because everyone knows those are the best school districts in metro Atlanta. LMAO!

Damn Yankee

November 11th, 2009
11:23 am

OK, I know nobody wants to hear from transplanted northerners on this but does anybody realize schools up north start after Labor Day, end in June, and have much higher test scores than the South? Please explain how changing the calander helps? Giving a week off in Sept and Feb is idiotic to say the least, when my kids know there is a week off in their future they kick it into vaction mode 2 days before and won’t get kickstarted back into school mode until 2 days after they get back. Its counterproductive to say the least. Although I dont have the daycare issues I feel for the parents who send their kids to grandma’s or camp during the summer who will now have to take off work or pay for daycare during these “rest periods”. I have never voted in a school board election but I will be voting against all that agreed to this, shows a complete lack of forethought and understanding of how to better the system.

John

November 11th, 2009
11:24 am

The board did not do this for the students or the parents, whose voices and opinions should have carried the most weight in deciding the issue (and who they were elected to represent). And the board did not base their decision on factual studies. The board choose to accommodate the teachers desire to have additional breaks during the school year, despite the overwhelming objections of their constituency. Remember this during the next elections.

Michelle

November 11th, 2009
11:26 am

Good Point Henry County mom, Henry County did it and survived, now Cobb will be just like Henry County, I expect the exodus to better schools to start today in Cobb!

K.G.

November 11th, 2009
11:26 am

Hey GT92 – I did !!

Sogooden

November 11th, 2009
11:26 am

Rockdale has been on a balanced calendar for years. It works great. Considering how badly Georgia has been doing in the education area, our kids need all the time they can get. It not about our schedules. We need to make the adjustment for our kids.

Darius

November 11th, 2009
11:27 am

The reason the stories have had more comments from those who oppose the balanced calendar is because the majority of Cobb residents oppose it. This will play out during the next cycle of elections when the board members who voted for the balanced calendars are voted out of office. While I give them credit for voting for what they felt was best, it also makes it so much easier for us to vote them out of office.

Mom of two

November 11th, 2009
11:30 am

On paper I love the idea as it would be nice to have breaks during the year to go out of town when it is not so crowded. Realistically though it just does not work. Financially we can’t afford to travel that much. While I would have to find childcare or a camp during those weeks it would not really change my childcare costs but just spread it out some. A longer winter vacation is difficult for those of us who work in careers that require alot of extra time on year end.

Dennis

November 11th, 2009
11:32 am

Really? a break, they should go all year round and get vacation time just like grown ups… get them ready for the real world

CobbVoter

November 11th, 2009
11:33 am

Ok, balanced calendar, unbalanced, whatever you want to call it. The point is that balanced calendar has NEVER shown an improvement in test scores, many times just the opposite. Look at Henry County test scores since 2002. They have NOT improved. Also, look at the Northern States Schools. They go back to school in mid September and get out the first week of June. Georgia is ranked ALMOST dead last, northern schools in the top 10. A break in mid September and mid February is a waste. The school board gave (4) options and asked for opinions and went with the WORST one. The board has never listened and come November they will be voted OUT.

Silent Majority

November 11th, 2009
11:33 am

Darius, actually, from my experience, it is much easier to oppose something than to support something so I would expect opposition to this new calendar to be more organized and hence the one-sided opposition at board meetings, etc. However, I along with most people with children in public schools would be inclined to support this proposal as well as any board members that voted for it.

Darius

November 11th, 2009
11:34 am

Maureen – You make a great point about how it impacts family life for those of us who have families living in other parts of the country. Cobb schools are the best in the state and there was absolutely no need to mess with the calendar under the false pretense that it would make Cobb schools better. Numerous corporations have moved their headquarters to Cobb County in recent years with one of the main draws being the quality of the school system. So, why would Cobb ever decide to emulate the school districts of Cherokee, Henry, or Rockdale?

Lynn

November 11th, 2009
11:34 am

GT 92, the way the “poll” was conducted was designed to not reveal the results. There was no true vote. Instead we were told to email our board representative. If the board truly wanted to know the quantifiable and reportable results of the parents, there would have been an online vote. The emails approach was just a way to let parents think they were having a vote without the board having to report the results.

This to me should be another topic Maureen. Why should the school board have the appearance of listening to constituents without reporting results when there is an easy online method of voting that would reveal the true results? It’s less to me about the result (which was predetermined anyway) than the sham of appearing to listen to the parents.

GT92

November 11th, 2009
11:34 am

Darius, what is your source for your statement that “the majority of Cobb residents oppose it.” I know that 85% of school system employees favored shortening the summer and adding at least one week long break during the school years and only 11% favored the current calendar, but I have not seen any data for non-employee residents.

https://portal.cobbk12.org/Attachments/229/BAI%20AA2%20ATTACH%20Calendar_Vote_Totals.pdf