Calendar committee wants breaks in school year
by Lindsay Field
August 07, 2012 01:02 AM | 7088 views | 42 42 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The 21-member committee charged with creating a Cobb Schools calendar decided its top priority is having fall and mid-winter breaks.

The school board last fall approved creating a committee to make recommendations on the oft-controversial issue. Committee members were chosen by Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, district staff and parent-teacher groups.

The panel is to meet two more times this month, and by Aug. 29 is to make a recommendation to Hinojosa, who could then make a recommendation to the Cobb school board this fall for the 2013-2014 and 2014-15 calendars.

Hinojosa’s chief of staff, Dr. Angela Huff, and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Hungerford facilitated the two-hour meeting last Wednesday. Hinojosa addressed the group early in the meeting, and stayed about 30 minutes.

“I feel like if we can make our best case, a group this big, this powerful with this kind of representation, that we can have the support that we need, with whatever recommendation we come up with,” Hinojosa told the committee. “Ultimately it will be up to the school board.”

The group came up with its top five priorities. At the top is having breaks around late September/early October, and again in February.

The other priorities are: ending the first semester at the winter holiday break; considering testing schedules; ending the year on a Wednesday for graduation purposes; and considering the district’s budget and the economy when creating the calendar.

Darryl York, Cobb’s policy director, and John Stafford, the district’s graduation coordinator, will draft several possible calendars before the committee meets again Aug. 22.

Each activity sparked a lot of conversation.

While the group was talking about how morale may affect teacher attendance and student achievement, Glen Brown, the district’s acting director of SPLOST, asked if the current traditional calendar affected all teachers’ morale, or just a few.

Parent Brandi O’Reilly, appointed by the north Cobb PTA council, said: “I basically would love to ask the teachers, ‘What makes you the happiest?’ because if they’re happy, then they’re at school and they’re teaching my kid.”

York asked if a student’s happiness and achievement is defined by fall and winter breaks.

Robb Stanek, a parent from southeast Cobb, said: “Achievement to me is my student being happy in school, wanting to go to school, not being burned out on school. It’s defined by frequent breaks.”

Parent Lisa Miller, also of southeast Cobb, said: “We need to look at the data … discipline, test scores, absenteeism,” said. “I want to make sure (the calendar) is based on real data, not just the whims of everybody. I want to make sure it’s a very thoughtful process.”

The 21 members were named last spring. The committee includes eight parents, two community representatives, five central office employees and six local school employees.

The eight parents, who were selected by the PTA Council, are Sarah Regitz and Abby Shiffman, of east Cobb; Stanek and Miller, of southeast Cobb; O’Reilly and Kevin Jabbari, of north Cobb; and Carolyn Pusey-Wade and Janis Stevenson, of south Cobb.

The two community representatives, who were selected by Hinojosa, are Dr. Arlinda Eaton, dean of Kennesaw State University’s education college, and Wayne Dodd, a member of the Cobb Chamber’s board of directors.

Besides Stafford, York and Brown, other central-office employees on the committee, who were selected by the senior staff, are Gary Markham, supervisor of band and orchestra; and Leanne Wood, assessment program manager.

The six school employees on the committee were selected by area assistant superintendents. They are Coy Dunn, Kennesaw Mountain High drama teacher and the district’s 2011 teacher of the year; Anthony Pearson, Mableton Elementary; Lisa Williams, Osborne High; Carole Brink, Dickerson Middle; Ed Wagner, Kell High; and Cindy Stigall, Due West Elementary.

Jabbari and Pearson missed Wednesday’s meeting.

The Aug. 22 and Aug. 29 meetings will be held in the boardroom on Glover Street in Marietta between 2 and 4 p.m. They are open to the public.
Comments
(42)
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Waste of time
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August 15, 2012
Here we go again. What a joke. We are not preparing our children for "real life" by giving them frequent week long vacations. If a teacher cannot be competent and engaged without frequent week long vacations then they need to find another profession although I am not aware of any other position that will award that benefit either. I am grateful that my children have only a few years left in broken down CCSD.
mmmmmmm
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August 16, 2012
Agree,
J Dunn
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August 17, 2012
These people that denounce teachers really need to spend a year teaching so that they can see what teaching is really like. Personally, I don't denigrate someone else's choice of profession as much as some of you talk about mine. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry have something to say the teaching profession with no actual understanding of what it is really like.
Dear Readers
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August 13, 2012
Welcome to the age of entitlement among our new generation of teachers. Most of the more experienced teachers I have spoken to would rather have a longer summer and TEACH. What other "industry" or educational system gives students a week or more break every 6 WEEKS???

19 yrs and counting
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August 17, 2012
I have been teaching for 19 years and the majority of teachers I work with WANT the balanced calendar. Entitlement? Are you serious. Entitled to what? Working our asses off to insure students receive the best education we can provide? You non teachers make me sick. Come and spend a week with a teacher. Deal with curriculum changes, collecting data, lesson plans, observations, dealing with discipline, calling parents, remediation, special events etc, etc...

I know it sounds like I am whining but I am not really. I love my job. You just don't have ANY idea what it's like in the "real world of teaching"
Willydoit?
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August 08, 2012
I always have to get the popcorn out for this topic!!

Sure, teachers don't make great money for the education they've got, but the benefits aren't bad!

A 30 years and out retirement with a guaranteed 60% of your salary plus insurance for the rest of your life isn't all that bad at the ripe old age of 52!
@teacherwhoteaches
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August 08, 2012
You sweriuosly need to out of this profession if you just can't make it six weeks until a week break then a two week break then another break, etc. Students behave much better and perform, ie this years test scores without the constant disruptions of breaks. Why don't you talk to the real teachers posting here that see how ridiculous the balanced calendar is. Please if you are sooooooo mistreated in the teaching profession go find another job!
Ridiculous topic
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August 08, 2012
I have been a teacher in CCSD for 19 years and am embarrassed that this is an issue. I have found veteran teachers just want to get their jobs done. I have to work 190 regardless of how the calendar is set up and personally found the balanced calendar to be ridiculous. It would be great to have a long weekend in October to prepare for conferences and one in February. It is all or nothing with this district. Compromise! Take Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off the week before conference week and Thursday and Friday before President's Day weekend. We truly do not need a whole week in either month. If the public truly wanted to do what is best for the kids, schools, and economy, they would begin AFTER Labor Day!
SAMEIDEAS
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August 14, 2012
Amen! Great points. I do not understand why Cobb has to be an all or nothing county.
anonymous
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August 07, 2012
Hey, if we need these breaks, why are so many teachers saying it was such a short summer and they are not ready to be back? Don't they realize the summer will be even shorter?

teacher who teaches
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August 07, 2012
Because we dread having to wait until the end of November for a break! The kids can't focus and behave that long. I would have LOVED to start school 2 weeks ago if I knew we had a break in September.
Say What?
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August 07, 2012
Actually all of these comments are pretty comical? Just goes to show everyone is out for themselves, they just have different ways of justifying their positions. No wonder our teachers have so many problems. With folks like this who wants kids??
down deep
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August 07, 2012
Yes! Let's keep our heads in the sand as long as we

can to avoid the truth. The year around calendar for

our school is inevitable or we'll be left behind.
eCobb Dad of 3
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August 07, 2012
I need to change careers and go into the teaching profession. Where else can you go and get a week off every six weeks and summers off?

anonymous
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August 07, 2012
and make $40-100k!
So what is stopping
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August 07, 2012
you?
Andy Pandy
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August 07, 2012
eCobb Dad of 3, do you realize that teachers don't get paid for summer breaks nor would teachers get paid for these breaks being considered now? Perhaps you could get your employer to give you leave without pay, and then you wouldn't have to change professions.
trade ya
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August 07, 2012
Sure, I'll trade jobs with you but remember, my salary is based on the number of days I teach...I don't get paid for the summer or holidays. They simply stretch my 10 months of pay over 12 months. I'll gladly work year round if you are willing to give me 12 months worth of pay. We all know THAT won't happen because you don't pay me what I'm worth now. I just love to teach so I take what I can get...including my well deserved summers off!
19 yrs and counting
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August 17, 2012
Please do. I'd

love to see how long you would last.
The Observer
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August 07, 2012
The only change that needs to be made to the calendar is a shorter school year. The way I see it, the school year should never start at the same time as the summer olympics, and for once, that's the case this year. I support more breaks, but only if it doesn't mean wiping out the kids' summers by moving the start date back a few weeks. I also will not support any calendar that allows for kids to wilt on the hot 150 degree buses.
IceDogg
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August 07, 2012
"Happy" teachers? "Happy" students? OMG, the county I moved to 15 years ago and have been so proud of has devolved into a unicorn-filled rainbow forest of pampered teachers and helicopter parents trying to shelter their precious little snowflakes.

Here's an idea... Teach a well-balanced, proven, curriculum. If you're not "happy", choose a different career. My employer doesn't cater to my "happiness". That's why it's called a "job" - and they pay us to do it.

And the students can find happiness at home, in extracurricular activities, clubs, friends, and family. It's okay for them to not be "happy" while working hard, learning, studying, and meeting challenges.

I've never seen such a pathetic public quorum in my life.
College Schedules
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August 07, 2012
In high school, teachers are constantly trying to prepare the students for college. This "balanced calendar" won't do that. Students will get to college, and then they will be on a real school calendar.
What a crock!
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August 07, 2012
Who are you kidding. The college calender is much

more balanced than that of the public schools. Did

you go to college in the Gulag?
anonymous
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August 07, 2012
college did not have the breaks they do now when I was there becasue it was qtrs, not semesters.
Ditto Howsad
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August 07, 2012
The educators were delighted with the test scores for this past school year. I don't know how the students managed that without extra breaks.

Where did this idea come from that teachers can't teach for more than a few weeks at a time and then they need a break? I don't for a moment feel these teachers have the interest of the students at heart. By the way teachers work for the school board - not the other way around.
Scores also
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August 07, 2012
went up during the balanced calendar year.

Either calendar doesn't have anything to do with performance. It's simply preference.

The loud ramblings of the traditional calendar mob has said spoken the performance lie loud enough that people believe it.
What a Joke
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August 07, 2012
Wait until these kids get into the real world and find out that there is not a "vacation" every 6 weeks so they can take a break. I have friends that are Cobb County teachers and not one of them support the balanced calendar...just when the kids get into a grove, they have a week off and it takes them another two weeks or so to get the kids back into it, just in time for yet another break.

This decision needs to be based on academics, not a vacation agenda. But based on the tone of this article, I can certainly see where we are heading.

Also, I live in Post 5 and I am disgusted that we as a community elected Banks to another 4 years of paying for his naptime at board meetings. Our kids deserve better than this clown, who, coincidentally, will be leading the pack on pushing for the balanced calendar. Yippee.
What a Joke
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August 07, 2012
And it should be "groove" not grove. Thought I would correct my typo before someone called me out on it.

And also wanted to add that it's not a coincidence that test scores were the highest they have been in years this past school year. I can't wait to hear how the balanced calendar supporters explain this one.
Really??????????
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August 07, 2012
You should double check your data. 2010-2011 test scores were just as high and the kids had the breaks built in. Just saying
What a Joke
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August 07, 2012
Hmmm...here is a direct quote from the MJD on August 2nd regarding current year test scores. Sounds like facts and data to me:

“I was real pleased that Pebblebrook, South Cobb and Osborne (high schools) all had double-digit growth in some of the areas that were of concern to them,” Cobb Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - State releases schools’ test results

Yes, you are a joke
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August 07, 2012
Scores as a whole went up during the balanced calendar year also. I tend to do better research than waiting on the MDJ.
polish falconj
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August 07, 2012
So we give them a break and start earlier. What about the sports teams, bands etc. They don't get a break. Also you don't get breaks in the work place you get two, three weeks and maybe longer after your there for ten, fifteen years. These people should be looking at getting our kids ready for the rest of their lives not how many vacations the administration can take without getting charged for them.
anonymous
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August 07, 2012
Sounds like the fix is in with this group. Remember elections hold far more weight than committees.

Howsad
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August 07, 2012
Top priority is not academics...as our students test scores have risen in every area this year...but the breaks. This is a joke. Ps where are the utility bills? No one ever asks nor gets the truth about how more it cost to have the AC running full tilt in these aging school buildings the entire month of August.
anonymous
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August 07, 2012
or the bus issues. How many settlements are paid to people for hot buses? Check it out
More of the Same
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August 07, 2012
There is no doubt this committee will advise having fall and winter breaks. Who doesn't want vacations?

Most real teachers will tell you that they just get students settled down to work, then up pops another vacation. They must start over with the students after the vacation.

I really wish people would quit trying to change the schools. The plan, ultimately I think, is to go to a year 'round school schedule. More vacations for teachers?

How many people in the real world get paid time off every few weeks???
anonymous
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August 07, 2012
they do not get paid for these breaks, they just get the time off and get equal paychecks each month. That is where they say they are shortchanged and are all underpaid, but if they want a full years salary, then work an full year job instead of 9 month job.
No clue
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August 07, 2012
You apparently have no clue about the education process. You've never had to keep larger and larger classes of students engaged every day, hopefully retaining enough to pass tests to not only help them progress academically but also help the teacher keep his/her job with the micromanaging from the administration and government at all levels. Throw in more and more unnecessary paperwork, etc that some supposed expert decided to add to an already crammed day, grading homework and tests all through the day and night. If that's not enough, throw in multiple meetings the district requires that mainly do with filling out paperwork that is merely to justify someone's job at the district office, but actually just takes away time teachers could use to prepare for classes. Then to top it off, add activities, clubs, makeup tests, etc before and after school that you need to show up early and stay late for. Add unsupportive parents, unreasonable administrators and lawmakers who are more obstructionists than supporters. After all those demands, if you're lucky, you have your own family that needs your time and energy to fulfill their needs also.

No one knows what it's like to be a good teacher unless they've done it. Certainly not the school board, and certainly not parent's who's biggest concern is how their vacation time is structured to "their" whims, irrespective of the needs of the students and teachers needs. Cutting salaries, more bureaucracy, more uneducated demands from every corner is making for a very stressful teaching environment. One which is not only bad for teachers, but ultimately and more importantly, bad for the students.

You have no clue.
Evenkeel
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August 08, 2012
@no clue- have you ever worked for a company that held you to firm standards for attendance or productivity? Where your livelihood was dependent on your work performance and if you called in sick 10 days you no longer had a job and were expected to work 50 hours each week and weekend with no additional money for 52 weeks, not 40? Were given committees to serve on and additional tasks dealing with customers (aka: parents in education) If you have only lived in the education world, you are out of touch with reality. So tired of teachers thinking they are the only ones dumped on. If you want more money and less dealings with parents, you control your fate, no one else. You volunteered for the job. Accept the responsibilities it or leave. That goes for anyone complaining about their work conditions. No one held a gun to your head and made you work where you are now. Suck it up and just do what you need to do to get that paycheck and stop complaining, or do something about it!
More of the Same
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August 08, 2012
To Anonymous, and anyone else who doesn't know or remember: Teachers are paid for 9 months. They, and the State Board and Legislature, decided years ago to spread this 9-month salary over 12 months so they (the teachers) would have income over the summer months. Back in those days, the average annual 9-month salary was about $5,000. The State wanted to keep teachers from starving during the summers.

And to No Clue: More than 30 years experience in school systems. I know how hard you work. This isn't about that. It is about breaking up the school year to please special interests.

Mickey Mouse Club
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August 07, 2012
If you're happy and you know it clap your hands! Everybody now! If everyone is happy, everyone succeeds! Yea team!
New Board
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August 07, 2012
The Committee seems to be doing a thorough job, but why is there a rush for the current Board to vote on a two year calendar in October? Why not wait and let the new Board decide the issue in January? The current Board last changed the calendar in January, so there is a precedent.
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