By Tia Lynn Ivey
Morgan County school students will start the year earlier than in previous years. Students will head back to their desks on July 31 instead of sometime in early-to-mid August.
The earlier start date is part of an effort to improve “student achievement,” according to school officials.
Superintendent James Woodard tasked the System Leadership Team with creating the 2017-2018 academic calendar.
“Our System Leadership Team comprised of parents, educators, and community leaders worked very thoughtfully and purposefully over several meetings to develop a school system calendar that maximizes student achievement for every school,” said Sarah Burbach, assistant superintendent.
According to Burbach, some of the reason for choosing an earlier start date include being able to end the school year on a Friday, to ensure each semester has the same number of days, and to accommodate longer breaks in October and February.
“The community and our teachers agree that breaks in October and February refresh our students and teachers so that better, more engaged learning can take place,” noted Burbach.
The team presented several drafts of the proposed calendar to the Morgan County Board of Education, allowing for public comment before the board approved it, said Burbach.
According to Burbach, part of the requirements of a Charter School System is to have a “school governance team” in place at each school. Each team is comprised of three elected parent representatives, two elected school representatives, and two appointed community members. The principal serves as the “ex officio” of the team. Parents elect the parent representatives and the school staff elects their representatives. The chairperson (not a school person) who has been elected by his or her peers to serve on the School Governance Team and the principal of each School Governance Team make up the System Governance Leadership Team and that is the group who creates the calendar for the year.
“As always, student achievement is the foundation for every calendar decision that is made,” said Burbach. “The group met several times to develop a calendar that put instruction first, while adhering to set dates affecting the different schools, including the PSAT given on a specific day, FTE Count days, and scheduling at the high school.”