Students and teachers in Columbia County will have an extra day next year to recover from spring break after the Board of Education on Tuesday approved a plan that adds the Monday after Masters Week as a holiday.
“We kept having situations come up with Masters play possibly going into Monday, and we’ve got students and employees being hired by the National,” said School Superintendent Charles Nagle. “If they went into Monday play, it would leave them in the lurch.”
In addition, he said, numerous parents who rent their homes to Masters guests worry about rentals that carry over Sunday night.
“Parents are concerned about getting their children back in town,” he said. “We have more people renting their houses, and they can’t get back in them.”
His own rental used to run Wednesday-Saturday, he said. “Now they want it the Saturday before Masters, and we don’t get in our house until 4:30 Monday.”
Nagle’s Student Advisory Council, made up of about 30 students gathered from the five high schools, also recommended the Monday carryover.
To compensate, the 2013-2014 school year will now begin a day earlier, Aug. 6 instead of Aug. 7, and teacher planning will begin July 31.
Also Tuesday, school officials began discussing a “Bring Your Own Device” policy for students to use their own iPads or Kindles for educational purposes.
“This is the future - this is where we need to go,” said School Board member Mike Sleeper, after a presentation by Deputy Superintendent Sandra Carraway.
Current policies, written to prevent cell phone use in classrooms, are being outpaced by technology, Carraway said. “At this time in technology, there’s no backing out,” she said.
Currently, two county middle schools are piloting programs to allow students to use their own tablets in school, she said. They’re limited, however, by being unable to access the school system’s wireless Internet network because of security concerns.
Carraway and the school system’s technology director, James Van Meter, were traveling this past week to Forsythe County to study that system’s BYOD policy and report ideas back to the board, Carraway said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent Charles Nagle said the future of the county’s annual Back to School Festival is in doubt now that its major sponsor, University Hospital, has withdrawn from the event.
“It’s become very popular, and a lot of people look forward to it,” Nagle said, but added it’s unlikely the school system can afford to continue the festival unless another major sponsor comes forth.