I am not sure how parents in Cobb County are supposed to plan their lives with this continued uncertainty about the school calendar.
I’ve been fascinated to watch the Cobb calendar battles as my system adopted the same “balanced” calendar and my twins go back this year Aug. 2. But Decatur is not changing back, and there doesn’t seem to be any momentum to do so among parents.
Full disclosure: I don’t like the Aug. 2 starting date. No profound reason except it cuts short the summer, and I am not a fan of the September and February breaks. But I have adapted. In Decatur, the more contentious issue now is the starting time of classes at the high school, where some parents are petitioning for a later first bell, reflective of the research that teens do better when schools begins later in the morning.
Cobb kids would have gone back with Decatur but the school board, under the influence of newly elected members, junked Cobb’s three year commitment to a balanced calendar halfway through the first year.
Now the AJC is reporting that the board will reconsider the calendar. After terse exchanges Wednesday at a board session, the board voted to consider the calendar later this month at the insistence of board member David Banks.
Banks proposed a third new calendar for Cobb, with an August 8 start date and the same weeklong breaks in September and February as well as the two-week winter break. However, his concept requires extending the school day by 10 minutes or so to ensure kids are in class enough. (I am also not a fan of compensating for the loss of full days by tacking on 10 minutes. Haven’t seen any research that shows this is a fair trade in terms of student learning.)
In any event, I would think that a new calendar would not be put in place until 2012-2013 as Cobb parents already have plans in place. So, there could be another six months of this battle. (Posters are saying that Banks wants the change to take place this year, but it seems insane to approve a new starting date six weeks out and expect parents, teachers, bus drivers, food service workers and maintenance folks to walk away from travel plans, vacations, airline tickets and camps to show up earlier. I can’t see a change until 2012 given what is at stake.)
The Cobb school board will consider a new school calendar at the June 23 meeting, following a vote at Wednesday’s work session to add it to the agenda. Earlier this year, a divided 4-3 school board voted to ditch the balanced calendar and its earlier school start date for a traditional format. After several attempts to revisit the vote, board member David Banks succeeded Wednesday by proposing a third calendar, which would combine elements of the two. The measure passed 3-3, with traditional calendar advocate Kathleen Angelucci absent.
–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog