Panel agrees on school calendars
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
August 23, 2012 12:50 AM | 19619 views | 96 96 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Hungerford discussed options for the 2013-14 calendar at Wednesday’s meeting. <br> Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
Cobb Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Hungerford discussed options for the 2013-14 calendar at Wednesday’s meeting.
Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
slideshow
MARIETTA — A majority of the Cobb County School District’s calendar committee have agreed on a pair of draft calendars for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years that will include full-week breaks around the first of October and Thanksgiving, a two-day break in mid-February and a school start around the first of August.

The 21-member group, which includes parents, community reps, central office staff members and school employees that met for two hours on Wednesday, started with the possibility of 64 different calendar options but narrowed it down to one for each school year.

They were asked to take the calendar drafts back to their school communities, where they will seek additional feedback from parents, students and staff and present their feedback at the Wednesday meeting.

The group came to a consensus, with only about five people not fully in favor, on the following 2013-14 school calendar:

* Start Date: Aug. 1, 2013, teachers start July 25, 2013

* Fall Break: Sept. 30 through Oct. 4, 2013

* Thanksgiving Break: Nov. 25 through 29, 2013

* Holiday Break: Dec. 23, 2013 through Jan. 3, 2014

* Winter Break: Feb. 14 and Feb. 17, 2014

* Spring Break: March 31 through April 4, 2014

* Last Day of School: May 21, 2014

A similar calendar was presented for the 2014-15 school year.

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Hungerford is leading the series of meetings with the district’s chief of staff, Dr. Angela Huff.

“This has been a divisive thing somewhat for the community, and our goal is not to just decide if we want a balanced calendar or traditional calendar,” Hungerford told the group at the end of their meeting. “Our goal is to develop a calendar that best suits the needs for Cobb County, without putting any particular label on it.”

Hungerford told the group that she believed they were “very close” to creating a final draft calendar for the next two school years, which would be presented to Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa after the group’s Wednesday meeting.

Huff also asked that each member share the list of priorities with residents while getting feedback from them on the drafted calendar.

During the group’s first meeting, they established five priorities for the creation of the calendar. Their No. 1 goal was to have breaks around late September/early October and again in February to boost morale, achievement and attendance among teachers and students.

Some of the conversation throughout the meeting included acting SPLOST director Glen Brown reiterating the importance of the school start date because it could impeded on summer construction.

Additionally, Kennesaw Mountain Drama Teacher Coy Dunn said the district should have a week-long break in September or October because it was something that “88 percent of students and staff” said they were in favor of in a poll taken during the balanced versus traditional calendar debate.

Parent Rob Stanek, who is a member of the Jessye Coleman Council, said several times that he didn’t care when the breaks were but that they should be frequent.

The group will meet again Wednesday in the school district’s boardroom between 2 and 4 p.m.

Huff said their goal is to decide which calendar to present to Hinojosa, who expects a vote by the school board sometime in October.

The group consists of eight parents, two community representatives, five central office staff members and six local school employees.

The eight parents, who were selected by the 9th District PTA Council, are Sarah Regitz and Abby Shiffman, with the East Cobb County Council; Stanek and Lisa Miller, Jessye Coleman Council; Brandi O’Reilly and Kevin Jabbari, Tom Mathis Sr. Council; and Carolyn Pusey-Wade and Janis Stevenson, South Cobb Council.

The two community representatives, who were selected by Hinojosa, are Dr. Arlinda Eaton, dean of Kennesaw State University’s Bagwell College of Education, and Wayne Dodd, board of directors and South Cobb Council vice chairman at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

The five central office employees, who were selected by the senior staff, are John Stafford, graduation coordinator; Darryl York, director of policy development; Gary Markham, supervisor of band and orchestra; Brown; and Leanne Wood, assessment program manager.

The six local school employees, who were selected by area assistant superintendents, are Anthony Pearson, Mableton Elementary; Lisa Williams, Osborne High; Carole Brink, Dickerson Middle; Ed Wagner, Kell High; Dunn; and Cindy Stigall, Due West Elementary.

The group, which was approved by the Cobb School Board last December, was formed to help determine which school calendar best suits the Cobb school district.
Comments
(96)
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Happy Parent
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October 18, 2012
I like the idea of a fall break. I love the proposal of an Aug 1 start date. Why we did not do this back in 2011 is beyond me. Fall breaks rule!! I can't wait to plan our fall trip.
Concerned Parent
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October 01, 2012
Unfortunately this isn't about what is best for student achievement. Shouldn't we make these decisions based on facts? Comparing CRCT Test results for Cobb students showed less overall improvement in 2011, the year we had these longer breaks and so called 'balanced calendar' than during 2012 with a more traditional calendar. Has anyone looked at any possible correlation there? Look at the top schools in the country and not one of them has students take these multiple, longer breaks that encourage an education lapse. The majority actually have shorter breaks of 1 or 2 days added to a weekend or 'homework free weekends' to accomplish some of the goals listed in the article. Why is it even a consideration to change the status quo without giving families at least one year's notice? I expect the Cobb School Board to make science based decisions when it comes to our students and to be respectful enough to give adequate notice to families and faculty.
cobb staff
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September 01, 2012
I also work for the county. I will admit, I did like the fall and february break, however I did not like starting the first week of August. I would love it if we started after labor day, like most of the country. And for the commenters who said that only elementary parents want these breaks forget that some of us play football as well and we had practices and games during that September break.
SEPT TO JUNE
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August 31, 2012
Please leave comments regarding the proposed school calendar to cheryl.hungerford@cobbk12.org. I have emailed her and school board members with my ideas. I believe we should move to a Sept to June calendar with some long weekend breaks but not extra full week breaks other than Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring. If more parents would email the decision makers, they would be able to hear our thoughts!!
Highschoolmom3
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August 27, 2012
What the "super committee" and supporters of the year round calendar (let's call it what it really is folks) are not taking into consideration is the opportunities that our high school students will miss as a result of this ridiculous schedule. Both of my older children attended college programs in the summer of their rising senior year. They would have not been able to attend if this calendar had been in place. My eldest was accepted into a very competitive college in part because of the program she attended. I have one more child who is moving up through the school system. I am grateful that she will be done soon as complete idiots seem to be making these decisions. How anyone can make these recommendations based on making people "happy" is beyond me. Our kids are in school to learn. Teachers teach because it is their job. I am not saying that to be disrespectful or ungrateful. It is just a fact. This is about what is best for students and that might not be popular but that should be the filter through which these decisions should be made. I have yet to see a single credible bit of evidence that the constant breaks are good for the kids. Now that I think of it, didn't we just hear all about how scores were BETTER this year with a more traditional calendar? We should be spending our time worrying about how to bring down class size (which IS directly correlated with performance) and not this nonsense.
Concernedmomandteacher
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September 08, 2012
As a parent to two high school students, I have to say that the "balanced calendar" is great! My daughters used the breaks to catch up with their AP reading and other assignments or to study for the AP exams. When the county went back to the traditional calendar, they hated it! Too many assignments and not enough time. You talk about scores, well I have to say that we had less students exceed on the crct this year versus last year - all thanks to the traditional calendar!!! Schools see less absences with the balanced calendar and there is less stress all around- both teachers and students alike. Your comment on "teachers should just teach- well I would love to see you in a classroom with 33 students who are strung out or sick. These breaks help students recoup from exhaustion (from academics or extra curricular activities). As for summer programs, well I do believe that a student is not considered enrolled until the show up at school, so let them stay at camp and start 1 week later.
Tlaur
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October 08, 2012
You lost me when you called those who oppose your chosen calendar "idiots". If you want to be heard, name calling isn't the mature/adult approach.
Senduremails
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August 27, 2012
For all of you posting I would suggest u email board members with your thoughts,except for david banks, he does even know what day it is....
Highschoolmom3
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August 27, 2012
Great point! Will do.
Concerned Cobb Paren
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August 31, 2012
I actually did email David Banks to request information about who is on the committee and how I might obtain facts about the academic rationale for the "balanced calendar" that he has publicly supported and voted for. Following is a direct quote from Mr. Banks' email response which left me absolutely shocked and even more frustrated than I though possible.

"The only information I have is what I read in the paper.

As far as I know the Calendar committee is still meeting."

--David Banks 8/29/12 via email

In addition to insulting my intelligence, it left me wondering why in the world the man ran for re-election. His response was to an email in which I asked him for the names of the committee members and also the academic rationale behind the balanced calendar. My takeaway was that he a) Lied to me and/or b) is not doing his job.

Mr. Banks, I would like to remind you that you are an elected official serving for ALL constituents, not just those who agree with you. You filled my email inbox regularly with attacks on your opponents prior to the election. I asked you for facts and expect an honest answer.



KMW
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August 27, 2012
I don't want a "spring break." I want a true summer break. Who wants to be out of school for an entire month before it is even the start of summer? I just don't understand why we can't start school after Labor Day. This would solve quite a bit of these calendar problems.

Having high schoolers, we all know that there is no true break from school during the school year with sports, projects and jobs. Summer break is the only time to get ahead with extra summer school classes, do Duke TIP programs, take long scouting trips or mission trips. What business owners wants to hire a teenager for a few short weeks in the summer? As soon as they are trained for the job, it will be time for school to start again.

Hope all you elementary parents enjoy those vacations to Disney World because when your kids get older you will be begging for a longer summer vacation. Can't wait to enjoy a good laugh at your expense in a few years.
How About?@KMW
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August 27, 2012
How about making the education of our young about

education and not about our idealized pasts and

our current lifestyle preferences. Both sides of

this issue are going bonkers. What we really need

"For the Kids" is a 200 day school year. In the

current climate, however, that makes too much sense

to fly.
Mad Mom too
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August 26, 2012
My high-schoolers tell me each year how many movies they watch in class or how they aren't doing anything. This year my sophomore is having to learn chemistry on-line. What in the world are our teachers doing?? In my child's AP Spanish class they watched movies in English and was told not to take the AP test because no one at her school ever scores well. After 5 years of Spanish she can't take it in college unless she goes into Spanish 3 (college level) which there is just no way she can do. Now she has to choose another language. What a waste. This calendar only adds more shame to this district. I could care less about vacations. Isn't the goal of the school district to teach our kids, prepare them for the future and help set them up for success? We are creating a bunch of complainers and wimps. It appears as though we are telling them they are too stressed, too over worked and need breaks. Yep, this will really help them in college. Better start planning on sending yourself to college along with your kid because they are going to need your help!
East Cobb Mom
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August 26, 2012
This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen! For starters, just because the students want something does not mean it is the right thing. If they had their way most of of them would prefer not to go to school at all. While all the breaks benefit elementary school kids it does nothing for high school kids who are involved in fall activities (and to be honest, I didn't get past the fall). As Georgia is seriously at the low end of the academic table nationally, don't you think we should adopt a calendar from states that are successful? I mean look at what just happened with the "new" math that we adopted after Virginia had dropped it and now we have dropped it. If we are trying to prepare our kids for college these calendars do not do that at all and isn't that what our goal should be? The heat in July and August will impact practices for high school fall activities. And lastly, let's talk about being fiscally and environmentally responsible. I know what my electric bill is in August. Who knows what the bill will be like for our schools. The buses will be emitting diesel fumes in the worst part of the summer which will cause more code Red air quality days which will impact anyone with any kind of sensitivity. I seriously question the intelligence of the people making these decisions. I honestly would like to know who this actually benefits and how. I fail to understand the goal behind this. I can't wait for my kids to be out of this district!

Mom of Two
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August 24, 2012
The first semester is very choppy. I simply do not see the need for a week long break in September. A long weekend in October is sufficient if you "need a break". I've always felt the week off at Thanksgiving was over kill. I grew up having Thursday and Friday off from school. We still managed to get the family together for Thanksgiving.

I wonder how that fall break will play into fall sports. Other counties will not take the week off so I would think football players would be expected to make practice. As well as cross country runners.
anonymous
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August 24, 2012
The year we were on the balanced calendar, my band kid practiced M-th, and my football kid practiced Th-Sat. This break is obviously being driven by elementary parents since high school parents know that there is no such thing as a break from fall sports/activities. Schools are open, and there is no cost savings in utilities.
westcobb
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August 25, 2012
I grew up having 2 days off for Thanksgiving. The difference is families are now scattered across the country. When I was growing up in the 50's and 70's, most families were local. Now families have to travel if they want to be with their parents or children.
E.D. Flanger
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August 24, 2012
This has nothing to do with the students or parents, it is strictly appeasing a group of teachers. I have spoke to many teachers that say that the anticipation of the breaks gets the kids wound up and when they come back it takes a few days to get them back in the swing of things. They always say that all the final tests have to take place before the winter break so they do not forget things, but now we are throwing several week long breaks into the mix. 21% of possible days from August 1-Dec 31 the kids are not in a classroom. Better keep those teahcers happy.
anonymous
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August 24, 2012
As a teacher in the trenches, you are absolutely correct.
Unbelievable!!!
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August 24, 2012
Common sense has absolutely left the CCSB and this panel. If school would begin after Labor Day, then all of these breaks are not necessary. Thanksgiving is around the corner and Christmas break should return to the week before and after

Christmas. Another break is not necessary as there are teacher work days until Spring Break and then dismissed the first week in June. The September to June calendar was around for many, many years and why a change is needed is beyond comprehension. No purchasing water to distribute to students on hot buses and keeps utility costs down. eyond comprehension. Everyone survived in the past, so what is the problem? Such a waste of time to rehash this item year after year when the solution is so simple.

Please spend more time with finding ways to help fund teachers needs in their classrooms that in turn, help our children instead of wasting taxpayer money on conference trips to find another spin on teaching. How about sincerely recognizing all teachers for what they accomplish each day with their students and the extended hours they commit to - planning lessons, grading papers, attending meetings and extracuricular activities and classes to keep their credentials updated. How can a 4 year or higher teaching degree be replaced with a 2 - 8 week boot camp? That is a slap in the face to all teachers for their dedication and accomplishments in teaching and being there for students. It is another 'beyond comprehension.'

Please include 'common sense' and 'appreciation'

in your vocabulary and the results are amazing. Please do not affirm the suggested calendar. Beginning 1 August is just not an acceptable date.
I love it
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August 23, 2012
Hallelujah! - from a Working Mom
Jeff A. Taylor
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August 23, 2012
I called it as soon as these "panels" were named.

If you are Cobb staff member you should be ashamed of yourself. This is out 2nd year in the system and a more lazy, self-important bunch I've never encountered.

"Fall Break" should be re-named "Lazy 8-week Admin and Teacher Break."

Starting the 2nd week in August made perfect sense. Aug 1st? Utter and complete crack-smokery.
two cents worth
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August 23, 2012
The squeaky wheels from the east cobb minority are squealing again on the blogs!

Basic math 180 days = 180 days.

I vote YES for the balanced calendar!
Former Teacher
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August 23, 2012
I am fairly new to the area and I have a question, I know that there have been surveys done in the past but is there a current one for all Cobb County residents on this issue? Or perhaps a petition? I have trouble with the idea that 21 people are in charge of deciding a calendar for the 106,000 students and families in the system. Being new, I'm still trying to figure a lot of this out (our old school districts are not county controlled and are held very accountable to the population they serve). What I do know is that this back and forth has to waste a lot of time and money. Don't we have more important things to debate? Class sizes? Trailers at our schools? Much needed improvement to our older buildings? The desperate need for more teachers and better pay to help retain them? The list is long! Has anyone looked at the fiscal side of running schools on this type of calendar? If so, where are the numbers located? (I wish there was a "like" button for some of the below great and valid perspectives.)
westcobb
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August 25, 2012
I think it should be added to the ballot in November. One vote for each adult. That would be a fair way to decide. I think you would find more people will vote for the fall break.
Cobb Resident
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September 01, 2012
We did vote. Over 75% of teachers, parents, students, and community members all voted for the balanced calendar. And that 75% is an average of each of the 4 subgroups. Why keep voting when we made our voice known loud and clear? The CCSD Board is oblivious and unconcerned with it's contituents' votes. For those parents concerned about their HS seniors and their college programs, if you don't like the calendar, go elsewhere. But the decisions of the school district shouldn't be dictated by a small percentage of East Cobb snobs.
Concerned Parent
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October 01, 2012
Only some voted on the calendar survey. The teachers and students were the ones who were made aware of the survey, so I suspect that many parents did not have the opportunity to weigh in - myself included. Bottom line is this decision shouldn't be decided by a survey, but rather by looking at the science of what improves classroom performance. If one were to do that then it is doubtful that extended breaks would be on the list.
Concerned Parent?
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October 24, 2012
The "Concerned Parent" - multiple notices were sent out to parents about the survey. If you were truly concerned, why didn't you pay attention?
Here we go again!
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August 23, 2012
I thought this was settled...that it was established that a majority of the community favored a traditional calendar! Starting up in early August, with the several long breaks during the year, puts working parents in a very difficult situation. What do we do with our kids during those breaks?

Oh, maybe we can bring them to their schools, anyway. I'm sure the district would be happy to provide babysitters for them!

Sheesh.....
John Grosch
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August 24, 2012
Thanks for thinking that school is a babysitting service! What do you do with the kids during the summer? I am sure that you are smart enough to figure something out.
East Cobb Mom
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August 28, 2012
School is not someplace to leave your kids while you work. If the balanced schedule passes then daycares and camps will open to fill the need for working parents who cannot take time off on the extra breaks. I love the balanced calendar, but at the end of the day we need to choose the calendar that works best for the education of our children, not for our convenience as parents
What Poll!!!
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August 23, 2012
Would love to know who and what schools were included in this poll? I know I never saw anything come across the email system, through PTA or at our school posting our opinions. Just like I thought it would be a selected group of people that the majority would like to go to school August 1st.

I can well afford private school and will now be applying to them for my kids. Cobb is no longer about education but how much time can we have off during a school calendar year!
Cobb Co. Crazies
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August 23, 2012
This calender is a mess. After celebrating Labor day the kids will go for just under 4 weeks before they have "Fall break". After "Fall break", the kids will go 4 weeks in October and then have Election day off. They will then go for 2 1/2 weeks and have Thanksgiving week off. Back in school for 3 weeks and then off again for a 2 week Christmas break. Back to school in January and then break for MLK day after only 2 weeks. Another 3 weeks and they get two days off for "Winter break".

I am glad this is going to help with the teacher's stress level because I am now stressed out just looking at this mess.
Jeff A. Taylor
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August 24, 2012
CCC -- Like I said, these "breaks" need to be renamed "Lazy Teacher and Admin Catch Up Time." At least be honest about it.
The Observer
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August 23, 2012
There is an old saying, "if the formula works, don't change it." The formula worked last year, on the old calendar. It worked before Sanderson became the superintendent and ruined the school system by making changes: grading with 1,2,3, then not canceling school during harsh weather conditions, and then even worse, added this calendar. He just completely changed the formula and sent Cobb from having the best school system to the most mediocre I have ever seen. I was happy when they went back to the regular calendar and gave the kids' part of their summers back. And for once, the summer olympics didn't conflict with the school year, and that should stay the same. But I guess Sanderson paid too many people off in the department, 'cause we saw his influence here in this meeting. To 80's Student, Chris H, beyond a doubt, ToBeCommended, and I like it, you are all fools for being ignorant of the health and safety of the children. Don't come to me for help when yours suffer heat exhaustion in those hot, un-air-conditioned busses.
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