Bartlett floats new school calendar idea
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@mdjonline.com
September 09, 2012 02:20 AM | 6627 views | 63 63 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(Alison Bartlett - MDJ File Photo)
(Alison Bartlett - MDJ File Photo)
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MARIETTA – Though new school calendar options from an appointed 21-member committee are set to be presented next month, Cobb County School Board member Alison Bartlett introduced yet another calendar option on Saturday.

Bartlett presented her idea for what she calls a “Balanced Nine-Week Calendar” during the Cobb Democratic Party’s monthly breakfast meeting. Bartlett, who is running for re-election this fall, said her proposed calendar is a compromise between competing ideas and is fiscally responsible.

She said she will formally present her plan for consideration at the school board’s work session on Oct. 10.

“After talking with the community and giving this much thought, I decided to put together a proposed two-year calendar that I feel will satisfy the needs of our students, staff and schools,” said Bartlett, a past board chairwoman.

“The Balanced Nine-Week Calendar is not hampered by the committee’s constraints, but instead, tries to find neutral ground between the various comments heard throughout our community and looks at future financial issues. My rational in proposing the Balanced Nine-Week Calendar is our growing need to optimize operational costs as well as minimize known safety concerns.”

Under Bartlett’s plan, the school year would begin Aug. 20 and end May 29. What she described as “natural” academic breaks would occur between each nine-week grading period.

Each semester would have two inclement weather days, which would be student and teacher holidays unless school was previously cancelled as a result of weather conditions. In that case, she said, those two days would become make-up days.

Bartlett said her plan follows the school district’s practice of implementing fewer instructional classroom days to save money. Her proposed calendar is based on 175 instructional days for the 2013-14 school year and 174 instructional days for the 2014-15 school year.

The debate over the school calendar has been an ongoing issue in the school district for years, primarily between those in favor of a traditional calendar, in which the school year begins in late August or early September, and proponents of a balanced calendar that starts in early August or late July and has several built-in breaks and vacations.

This past August, the district’s 21-member calendar committee agreed to submit two options per semester for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years to Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa. The group is comprised of parents, educators, central office staff and community members.

Hinojosa will present the committee’s recommendations to the seven-member school board at next month’s work session and for approval at the Oct. 25 meeting.

Bartlett was first elected in 2008, but the district was reapportioned this year to include more of conservative west Cobb. She represents Harrison, McEachern and Hillgrove high schools.

On Nov. 6, she will face first-time candidate Brad Wheeler, who won the Republican Party nomination for the west-central school board seat. In 2008, Wheeler retired from the county after teaching and coaching for 17 years at Pebblebrook High School and serving for nine years as an administrator at McEachern High School.
Comments
(63)
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I like it
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September 18, 2012
First off - The reason why they didn't approve the balanced calendar is when they asked people to vote, people voted multiple times because the system allowed it and threw off the results so they had no way to see who liked the balanced vs. traditional. On top of it, the only reason I heard from parents as to why they liked the balanced calendar was because they could take vacations when it was cheaper. I never saw a blog that said anything about it benefiting their child's education. I also know teachers who liked the calendar for the same reason. Education be damned. The superintendent put together the calendar committee not the board members. Personally I really like Allison's proposal because it is a good compromise. Remember Banks was against the balanced calendar and now all of a sudden he was a huge proponent. Now hopefully when this is done Banks will shut up!We have way more important things to worry about than a stupid calendar!
anonymous77777
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September 13, 2012
Why would you automatically take away 5 instructional days? That is only necessary for budget shortfalls. What happens if the economy improves in the next two years? When there is a need for a budget cut what area will suffer?
I thought Dear
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September 13, 2012
Leader had improved the economy 3 years ago.

Didn't he?

All forecasts for the next 2 years point to shortfalls of tens of millions of dollars for CCSD.

WC Parent
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September 12, 2012
If you would like to see her proposal, she has a website that it is posted on. You can't post a website in the comments, but if you do go to her site, it's under "Other". You could also email her, like I did, and she will send you a copy.

I read an article that said the school board is considering removing one of the furlough days because there are excess funds due to the mild winter we had last year, so less money was spend heating the schools. If a mild winter can eliminate a furlough day, then not having to cool the schools during the hottest month of the year has to account for something! Don't judge the calendar just because you like/don't like Bartlett, look at the calendar for yourself and judge it. Let's say that Ms. Bartlett is as horrible as some people think, does that mean she can't have a good idea every now and then?

Tired of the lies
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September 12, 2012
I don't really care what Bartlett's calendar is. I like the balanced calendar and I don't care if I start back teaching in late July. Kids are ready to come back then anyhow. Costs won't be more because the buildings are open anyhow.

Bartlett has shown repeatedly that she has her own agenda and it isn't protecting the people of Cobb. I won't let it die that she completely lied about good administrators and accused them of wrong. She fabricated facts in her campaign against the balanced calendar the first time too.

Someone of her character should not be in this office. It seems cliche to have dishonest people in office, but I just wish the world was different. I'll vote in November to try to do my part. The next people may not be better, but at least I'll know one dishonest person isn't holding office anymore.
Interesting, of the
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September 12, 2012
people ranting against the proposal, I see few to zero facts or opinions about why her proposed calendar is bad. I just see a lot of rants about Ms. Bartlett as a person. At the same time, I see some reasoned thoughts/opinions on why the proposed calendar structure is more favorable than that proposed by the committee.
anonymous
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September 12, 2012
How do you know she lied? You will soon see that there are many teachers that the administration went after during that time period.

Mom of Two
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September 11, 2012
I tried to copy/paste the calendar but it wasn't readable. This is a better compromise than any I've seen. Kids are in school 9 weeks before a break and breaks are shorter so easier to get kids back to the routine. No way around winter break then two weeks later three day weekend for MLK. Still, from what I know of MLK, I would think a celebration within the schools to be a better way to honor his memory and what he did. I realize I'm in the minority there. Back to the calendar, I say kudos to Bartlett for the proposal, shame on the committee for not asking for less restrictions and attempting to come up with something better.
I agree totally
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September 11, 2012
Concur
CC Bus Driver
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September 11, 2012
Not Me, and not any of my co-workers that I know have been asked our opinion by this alleged 21 member committee.
No Input
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September 11, 2012
Good point.

It's amazing that our PTA sends DAILY junk mails about everything, EXCEPT there has never been a mention/survey regarding the calendar committee input.

I guess the calendar isn't that big of a deal to the PTA.
anonymous
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September 12, 2012
The committee went in with a predetermined solution, that was obvious
CC Bus Driver
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September 12, 2012
Thank You anonymous for pointing out the obvious. I agree with you 100%.

Since my first post I have spoken with 2 teachers that live in my sub-division. Neither one has been contacted by any committee member concerning their opinion. They both stated that no other teachers that they know have been asked their opinion.

Sounds to me that "the fix is in."

Shoulda known
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September 11, 2012
The calendar crazies are out! Lock up your kids and hide your valuables! Venomous, vitrolic, spoiled, selfish, hateful people who don't want to consider anything but what they want regardless of the outcome. Shame on YOU!
More of the same
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September 11, 2012
now thinking she knows better than the committee's recommendations....PLEASE let's vote her out, PLEASE
@Disney Travel Agent
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September 11, 2012
Any committee that recommends a Calendar that starts school on July 31 and has numerous ill-timed breaks to appease the lazy employees is a committee to be ignored.
anonymous
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September 11, 2012
@Disney Travel Agent must be afraid of losing vacation bookings with the earlier start dates. The committee was approved by the board with a unanimous vote. Once again when Bartlett does not get what she wants she finds a way to push her own agenda. Bartletts calendar should be turned down just like Banks proposed calendar last year.
@anonymous
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September 13, 2012
Question, Re: Bartletts calendar should be turned down...

Why? You've stated no reasoning, just ranted.
Politics as usual
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September 10, 2012
It's funny how Bartlett now supports a calendar compromise when she is up for reelection. She voted against a compromise when she was chair and Banks proposed a compromised calendar. She will get her due come November.
Banks is a Baffoon
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September 10, 2012
The calendar should still be a NON-issue. Stop worrying about WHAT days we educate and focus on HOW MANY days we have CUT! The committee's proposed calendar starts WAY too early. Without conserving, we will have to cut more days to fund the hottest days of the year.

Second, we are stuck with Banks another 4 years thanks to the uninformed voters that went to cast a vote against T-splost and voted "Incumbant." Head to head, Banks would NOT be Post 5's rep!
@Banks is a
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September 11, 2012
Post 5 residents should be embarassed.

The 2 "candidates" who ran against him should also be embarassed - for signing up, not bothering to run any semblance of a campaign, splitting the vote, and letting Mr. Grapevine slip back in.
not surprised
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September 10, 2012
Oh well - Alison voted with Angelucci to change the schedules to what we havenow - and now that she is in a run-off she comes up with this "fabulous new solution"- where was it 2 years ago - now where in her sight until she runs the risk of not being on the board. TOO LITTLE TOO LATE - Goodbye Alison!!!!
@not surprised
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September 11, 2012
Re: "fabulous new solution"

I agree, it does sound like a pretty good solution.

I take it you are supporting it, are a woman, and just being catty about the women on the board - after all, 2 men voted for the current calendar and you didn't attempt to belittle them in your rant.
balanced mom
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September 10, 2012
Is this the same person who voted against a balanced calendar and got it reversed 2 years ago? Is she changing her mind now that she is up for re-election? Why can't she release her proposal now? Can anyone tell me why our "winter break" is 17 days? The rest of the country goes back around Jan 3. Why do we go back the second week?
rezoned
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September 10, 2012
My neighborhood was rezoned so that we are now part of the district in which Mrs. Bartlett will seek re-election. This article in the MDJ is the first I have heard of her plan. I question her motives in pushing this calendar such a short time before the committee makes their recommendations. I think I smell politics and it doesn't smell nice!
DejaVuStew
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September 10, 2012
Really? REALLY?? Here we go again...another example of Bartlett and her buds doing whatever THEY want to do. I can't believe your audacity Allison. Shame on you.
acworthmom
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September 10, 2012
I really would like to see details of Alison Barlett's proposed calender! She is on the right track with the start of school in later August. Also, having a couple of long weekends is truly less disruptive than the single week off!
Concur with AM
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September 11, 2012
It does sound like a good balanced approach to designing the calendar - considering start date/weather considerations, Summer educational/recreational opportunities, timing breaks with the lesson plan, etc. I'm sure it won't be perfect - considering all the elements to be considered (holidays, testing, etc.) but it is the correct approach and the approach the committee should have taken.

No one in the community has a problem starting August 20 and ending May 29. The majority of the community has a problem starting July 31 as the committee recommends.
bad idea
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September 15, 2012
Long weekends are a very bad idea because too many students are absent the day before and after the long weekend.
greenbug
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September 10, 2012
MDJ, please post a copy of this calendar! The committee has school starting on July 31st for the 2014-15 school year. That's just ridiculous.

Bus Driver
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September 09, 2012
I like Bartletts idea. I would like a starting date after labor day even more. It is way to hot on the bus in August in the PM.
tired of her
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September 09, 2012
Why is she even looking at her own calendar? Did she not vote also to have this committee bring teh options to the board. So, before they have been brought before the public she is already saying she doesn't like the work they did and I have my own plan. Here is a plan, get voted out of office!!!!
Her Perogative
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September 11, 2012
Ms. Bartlett and the board are the only individuals empowered to select the calendar. I'm glad to see her show initiative and look beyond the committee's July 31 start date calendar.
anonymous
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September 11, 2012
It was also her prerogative to vote to approve the calendar committee. If Bartlett had any reservations on the start and end dates she should have mentioned them to the committee before they started their process. I agree with the others that this is purely a political move on Bartletts part. She is trying to draw attention from her voting record and turn the calendar into an election topic.
anonymous
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September 11, 2012
@anonymous:

"It was also her prerogative to vote to approve the calendar committee"

This doesn't mean that she has to mindlessly go along with what they recommend.

I too, "agree with the others" on this blog - it is a good idea that she has come up with.

I don't see how she is trying to make the calendar "an election topic". She is simply doing her job - She, not the committee, votes on the calendar. She is appropriately looking at alternatives. Even if she was trying to make it "an election topic" - what is wrong with that?

Makes sense
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September 09, 2012
I taught in a school district that used the 9 week grading periods to organize their breaks and it works well. The district was truly progressive and used the vacation time between the grading periods to remediate students that required it instead of waiting until spring to address students that may not pass the CRCT. Students were not required to attend but were offered the opportunity along with bus transportation and free lunches. Teachers were paid to come in during the breaks to teach the academic sessions since these days were not included in their (then) 190 day contracts. With the current budget concerns the system has not been able to offer as much remediation during the breaks but when fully functional, this system works extremely well. Even if we can't remediate students here in Cobb during the breaks, it makes more sense to go a full quarter before taking time off so that there is less disruption to the learning environment.

My former school district does an excellent job of ensuring funding goes directly to student programs instead of getting caught up in a bloated central office. I thought that when I came to Cobb I would be a part of a more progressive, sophisticated school system but it turns out that there is at least one rural northwest Georgia school system that outshines Cobb with their ability to support students and teachers.
Good Plan
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September 11, 2012
This sounds like a good idea - this way remedial action is taken throughout the year - rather than just at "summer school".
anonymous
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September 09, 2012
I think the committee calendars will be better for the students. Bartlett needs to be voted out. She is always finding a way to divide the board and cause dissension. I'm amazed that the board can even function with both Bartlett and Banks.
Better for whom
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September 10, 2012
Starting school at the end of July, having week long breaks, and disrupting school is not what is best for children. Children have to learn that life is about working. Businesses do not givwe employees breaks every 6 weeks!
No Burnouts
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September 10, 2012
Having the week long breaks will keep the students from getting burned out. My kids did a lot better when we had the balanced calendar and the breaks.
Working Life
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September 10, 2012
If the children need to learn that life is about working we should go to year round school. Businesses do not get the summer off.
necobbmom
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September 10, 2012
Oh you are so misinformed... Alison Bartlett, Kathy A. and Tim Stulz are the only board members who actually have integrity, will ask the right questions and don't trade votes or play politics. I am a republican, but would vote for Alison in a minute... it is about the best person for the job... don't think her opponent is worth anything... he will just be another lame duck, like Banks on the board..
@necobbmom
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September 11, 2012
It looks like Brad Wheeler would be like Crowder Eagle - another former administrator who would cater to the whims of administrators and whatever fad surfaces for consideration
anonymous
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September 11, 2012
@necobbmom forgot about the politics that was played to elect Barlett chair last year. Bartlet, Stultz and Angelucci are definitely playing politics and pushing their own personal agendas. Wheeler will bring integrity back to this board.
Wait...
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September 09, 2012
Wasn't the calendar committee idea endorsed by Bartlett when she was chair?? And people say Old Man Banks can't let something die?!?! Mrs. Bartlett, please just campaign as the Democrat you are so your new district can vote you out.
anonymous
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September 09, 2012
The calendar committee was not given free reign as promised. When you state that you must finish the semester by Dec. break, you have no chance for a compromise. The committee was charged with finding a variety of options. Not just one option.

This is a compromise between traditional and balanced. Everyone gets what they say they wanted. Frequent breaks, and a later start date. Plus.... a way to prevent more teacher lay offs and larger class sizes.

anonymous
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September 11, 2012
The board should have been the ones to set the parameters for the committee to begin with. Was Bartlett asleep when they approved the committee? This is another example of how the current board wastes the time and efforts of others. The board missed their opportunity to dictate any terms for the calendar when they approved the committee in December without any conditions.
anonymous
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September 11, 2012
Re: "The board missed their opportunity to dictate any terms for the calendar when they approved the committee in December without any conditions."

This is absolutely wrong. The board and only the board decides on the calendar. Someone needs to get a clue about how the real world works. Boards routinely form committees, and routinely follow or choose not to follow their recommmendations. This board seems wisely poised to not follow the recommendation of the calendar committee
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