Earlier start date, more breaks in store for students
by Hannah Morgan
September 27, 2013 01:21 AM | 8111 views | 32 32 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb School Board
Cobb School Board
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MARIETTA — The Cobb Board of Education on Thursday chose to start the next two school years a week earlier in August and include a fall break for teachers and students.

The divided board approved the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school year calendars after an hour-long discussion back and forth between two proposals.

The board voted 4-3 with members Scott Sweeney, Tim Stultz and Kathleen Angelucci opposed, in favor of a “balanced” calendar.

Board member David Banks preferred an earlier start date, he said, because it would give students one less week to get involved with violence and crime. Banks said out of more than 3,000 emails he received, the majority preferred the week off in September and earlier start date.

Sweeney said his constituents told him that despite days off in the school year, there were still sports practices, band practices and sports games scheduled on days off. The loss of revenue at concession stands and ticket booths drastically declines when school is not in session on those days, he said.

Angelucci and Stultz mentioned the economic impact of cutting summer break a week short, and they along with Sweeney bemoaned the missed opportunities of summer camps and vacations that could be scheduled during the first week of the school year.

Parents, teachers and administrators were divided on either side of the calendar vote.

Patti Morgan, who has two sons at Walton High School, involved in academics, sports and other extracurricular activities, said her children need the fall break

this year.

“Even if you start later, it is a long haul for these kids, from the beginning of August until Thanksgiving is a very long time for no breaks,” she said.

High schoolers at high-achieving schools need the time off to catch up on sleep and studying, she said.

Other parents think a longer summer break is better than a short fall break, because it gives students time in the summer to hold jobs and attend camps.

Chrissy Miletto, who has a junior at Lassiter High School, said once school is in session, activities like sports and marching band don’t stop for breaks. The breaks cannot be used to go on vacation if a student has a school commitment, or community sport scheduled.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said that most importantly, the board needed to make a decision and stick with it. Both calendar options had benefits and drawbacks, he said, but shifting the community around every calendar year needed to stop.

Board member Brad Wheeler recalled that while driving around in west Cobb this summer, the support for the balanced calendar shocked him.

Two parents spoke about the calendar during the public comment part of the meeting, garnering shouts and applause from the audience.

Jennifer Fink, who has three children in the school district, said the importance for students to get summer jobs, relax and travel with their families in the summer was crucial to their development and opportunities.

Parent Sarah Lyons urged the board to make a decision with the students in mind, not Six Flags over Georgia.

“You owe parents, teachers and students. Promise there will be no more changes mid-cycle,” she pleaded.

Cobb Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Connell said earlier this week that since the education SPLOST that funds capital improvements for the school district is directly tied to sales tax revenue, it may be prudent for the school board to consider delaying the vote on the school calendar until more data on the potential economic impact of an earlier school start date can be determined.

Lindsey Burruss, spokesperson with Cobb Travel and Tourism, said her organization “conservatively” estimates that a one-week earlier start to the school year would carve nearly $21 million from Cobb’s travel and tourism industry.

This would mean about $210,000 less in SPLOST collections for the school system during that one-week period, Burruss said.

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Calendars adopted by school board

2014-2015

First day: Aug. 4, 2014

Fall break: Sept. 15 – 19, 2014

Thanksgiving: Nov. 24 – 28, 2014

Winter holiday: Dec. 22, 2014 – Jan. 5, 2015

Spring break: April 6 – 10, 2015

Last day: May 21, 2015

2015-2016

First day: Aug. 3, 2015

Fall break: Sept. 21 – 25, 2015

Thanksgiving: Nov. 23-27, 2015

Winter holiday: Dec. 21, 2015 – Jan. 4, 2016

Winter break: Feb. 15 – 19, 2016

Spring break: April 4 – 8, 2016

Last day: May 25, 2016

Comments
(32)
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Amanda Thornley
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September 27, 2013
Cherokee County schools have now surpassed Cobb, their test scores are higher. The calendar is a model for year round school for a non-agrarian community it makes sense, we are at the bottom of the nations education standards we need to find a way to bring it up.

Please remember we come home that week before school starts and buy clothes and school supplies, we spend during that two week period.

Lastly, white Water and Six Flags open up during that week off in September because families stay home and take that week to play.

As a parent of teenagers, summer what summer??Its all practices and summer school work. What active high achieving teen has time off? It is the nature of the beast and it is only a short time.
@ Amanda Thornley
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September 29, 2013
First, it's ridiculous for you to compare Cobb to Cherokee. The demographics are significantly different.

According to the Georgia Dept. of Ed.;

6.4% of Cobb's student population is taught English to Speakers of Other Languages. Cherokee is 3.3%.

43% of of Cobb's students are eligible for Free & Reduced Meals compared to Cherokee's 30%.

Cherokee and Fulton had identical SAT Mean scores.

Fulton has a later start. Oh, and by the way... Roughly 18% of Cobb and Fulton high school students take the SAT as compared to only approximately 13% in Cherokee high schools.

Gifted programs require state designated minimum achievement thresholds to gain entry.

Again, Fulton has a later start... not a balanced calendar and 15.5% of Fulton students are in Gifted programs as compared to Cherokee at 12.8% and Cobb at 13.1%.

You also might want to check the Six Flags/Whitewater schedule... They are closed M-F after Labor Day.

so thankful
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September 27, 2013
that the board finally got it right, atleast enough of the board for the far superior calendar to be passed! Now this time, don't take it away before its time. Every parent and teacher I know support this, and every system on the far superior balanced calendar supports it...Hooray, for once!!!!!!!!
Real World
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September 27, 2013
CCSD will now be on the same schedule as the Cherokee CSD. Cherokee has been on this schedule for many years and their school score have steadily improved. Maybe Cobb officials finally realized that not every household in Cobb is going to their vacation home at the beach or to Europe as the east Cobb parents have been telling them.
anonymous
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September 29, 2013
School districts with a more traditional calendar have scores that are also rising.

Gwinnett and Fulton are great examples. Their districts are much more like Cobb than Cherokee and neither have a fall break or extra spring break.

Student achievement is not tied to a calendar.
DW12
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September 27, 2013
David Banks' comment reveals how out of touch he is with the people who elected him. 'One less week of crime and violence' is not what his East Cobb parents are focused on. This new calendar in NO way represents what the majority of his constituents want.
Just Wait
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September 27, 2013
It is impossible to create a calendar that will please every parent, which is what every parent wants. Many of them make it sound like they spend the entire summer vacationing together to bond as a family. They complain that poor little Johnny or Jane won't have enough time to rest because they are studying to hard. School is supposed to teach, and not just reading and writing. The only thing these parents are teaching their children is the art of whining, and that if you whine long enough, you'll get your way. Great job Mom and Dad!
Mike Cates
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September 27, 2013
So Glad I dont live in Cobb County anymore!
Actually....
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September 27, 2013
So are we.
Be Careful
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September 27, 2013
I don't understand why the schedule has to change so often. When I was in school, we started the last Monday in August and the last day was June 1st (or the closest weekday to June 1st). That's the way it was from 1st grade all the way through high school.

I'm glad I don't have kids in Cobb County Schools. I would be furious that the schedule changes around so often.

As for the comment that it's such a "long haul" from August to Thsnksgiving break...do you want some cheese with the whine?? Give me a break. No student is going to catch up on studying during a week off. Reality check, people.
Break for Teachers
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September 27, 2013
School board- since our overworked students need this break to recover, make it a true break and pass a rule that no school assignments can be given during this week or be made due upon return from break. If the teachers are off, then the students should be too.
Illegal
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September 27, 2013
It is not legal to give homework and count it as a grade over a break. I would call the school and let the principal know who is giving homework. That is why they can give summer assignments but can't grade them until the third week of school. It gives the kids a chance to get it done if they did not accomplish it over the summer.
Really people!
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September 27, 2013
Please tell me what teacher actually takes that week off. Catch up on grading, plan lessons, paperwork, etc. are how teachers cope with increased class sizes, accountability, and expectations all the while with less resources and pay.

Illegal- please post the legal code you are referring to. You people are truly disgusting. Do you have any expectations for your children or just want them to live a privileged, pampered life.

I am happy to support the people who put so much time and effort into my children's lives. You should consider doing the same.
Banks is a fool
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September 27, 2013
David Banks' comment about one less week for crime proves what an incompetent fool he has become. It is not one less week, but just a different week for the kids to get in trouble.
Jeff A. Taylor
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September 27, 2013
Utterly insane, but never in doubt. Cobb's whiny, coddled teachers and admins assured that. Mid-September is NOT FALL. Call the break by its real name -- Week Long Break At the Six-Week Mark So We Can Scurry Around and Make Sure Kids Are in the "Right" Classes, ie the Ones That Make Us Look Good, Without Having To Work Too Hard.

You are not fooling anyone, folks.
Flunk You Mr. Taylor
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September 27, 2013
My wife is a teacher Mr. Taylor. Where can we meet face to face so I show you what I think of people who believe Cobb teachers are whiny and coddled? I would be happy to come to your work Taylor. Where do you work?
anonymous
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September 27, 2013
Cobb teachers ARE whiny and coddled. I agree with that statement. Totally. Lord help if we asked them to do REAL work.

Old Man
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September 27, 2013
To "Flunk You Taylor" - very mature adult attitude there Mr. Teacher's husband - is this what you teach your kids, if someone says something you don't like then beat them up. You probably are a wimp since you know Taylor can't find you.

Grow up
The Taylor Break
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September 27, 2013
Sigh...The 2014 equinox (first day of Fall)lands on September 23. Students return from the break on September 22nd. To avoid confusion by this ONE DAY differential we will hence forth refer to this as THE TAYLOR BREAK in honor of the brave man who soldiered so diligently to right this travesty.
Mr.Taylor
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September 27, 2013
News: Teachers were never asked about what calendar they prefer. The board is misleading you when they state,"Teachers want...." What teachers want is to teach. It truly doesn't matter how you split up the school year because it is 175 days (was 180 until they cut it down). Teachers want their 2% back, 180 days back and for the public to give us a little credit for all we do with your children. You don't see that happening. I work 10 hour days, get paid for the 190 that I work, don't receive vacation pay, and love my job. Oh yes, the only time I am whining is when I have to listen to clueless people like yourself!
@old man
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September 28, 2013
You mad bro?
anonymousabc
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October 03, 2013
Mr. Taylor, you are an idiot.
Medic1778
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October 06, 2013
Whatever...with the continued furlough days. my wife's makes the same as when she started 5 ears ago......she loves her students and her job...so do not even go down the "find another job" path. Heck, even police and fire are done with furloughs and getting raises this year.
Just Sayin'....
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September 27, 2013
Oh good heavens! The decision has been made and let us move forward. It is nauseating and impossible to accommodate everyone all of the time. Let us put this behind us and devote the time and energy into improving SAT scores and the like. Concession sales entered into your thought process Mr. Sweeney??????? Maybe you can come up with a special SPLOST to fix that too.
Furlough days
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September 27, 2013
Anticipating more furlough days. That is why there is no winter break in February this year. Sad!
Disgusted with Banks
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September 27, 2013
Although I do like the idea of the school breaks, I am totally disgusted by David Banks latest racist remarks about members of our community.

In his comments about the calendar, he said our minority population were more likely to be single parent families (than whites). Please correct me if I am wrong.

This man needs to take his hearing aid and fade away to an all-white retirement community where they play Dixie on a regular basis.
Redford64258
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September 27, 2013
Sometimes the truth is painful & no one is willing to say it out loud. Check out the mug-shots on the evening news every night. The stats don't lie....nice civil comment about the hearing aid. Our society is in the gutter
truth hurts
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September 27, 2013
Though not a Banks supporter, how is what he said racist? That is simply the truth. It is not racism to state the facts. YOu can check any school in the county and the situation is the same....the majority of single parent families are minorities. When based on percentage of students....it is even worse. Sick and tired of everyone crying racism, any time a statistic or FACT goes against what they want to hear. IF you don't like it....then change the facts by not having kids without getting married or staying in relationships. Whites didn't make this decision to abandon your kids.....
U R Rigth
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September 27, 2013
Sadly, you are right. I was at the meeting and my jaw dropped open when Mr. Banks made that racist comment.

Advise for Mr. Banks: "Even the fool is seen as wise when he keeps his mouth shut" Stop talking Mr. Banks.
Disgusted with Banks
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September 27, 2013
The hearing-aid comment was meant to illustrate that Mr. Banks needs to listen to our community which most of us have long rejected racism.

I have zero toleration for this type of racial slander. I hope you will join me in challenging Mr. Banks to simply be better than he was/is last night. Cobb is far better than than that racist comment.
Banks correct
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September 27, 2013
You may google cobb county arrests and view all the teenagers being arrested day after day. 29 of them from Hillgrove High School last year. White and black! Where are the parents? They aren't parents anymore, they are 'friends". Well, Mr.Banks is correct, our youth are getting into trouble all the time and it simply gets worse!
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