Columbia County children next year will start public school a day earlier than this year, and the school term will end five days later than this years calendar.
There are only 180 days in a school year, as mandated by the state of Georgia. So the earlier start and later end doesnt mean the school year is longer. It just means those 180 days are spread over a longer time, with more days off in between.
So, is the proposed calendar a good idea or a bad idea?
Parents may want to voice their opinion. Unfortunately, they havent been given that option. And thats definitely a bad idea.
Engaging the countys teachers of the year as a system-wide committee charged with setting up next years school calendar was a good idea. Getting input from the best and the brightest teachers from every school produced a solid set of recommendations.
Taking the next step of presenting those plans to all educators in a poll was a good idea, too. The surveys results provide a broader perspective on the calendar questions, and give a temperature reading of how different school levels view scheduling priorities. (Elementary- and middle-school teachers like breaking the year into shorter segments; high school educators prefer fewer interruptions.)
After those two steps, the school board reviewed the 2003-2004 calendar proposal, and approved it on a 4-1 vote. Trustee Lee Muns opposes the calendar, in part, because parents werent part of the review process.
Muns asks: Why no input from parents? Good question. Is parental input messy and cumbersome, cluttering up the decision-making process like too many cooks in the kitchen?
Maybe so. But somebody has to eat whats cooked - and parents arent even being shown a menu.
Look: We certainly sympathize with school officials. It sometimes seems that public forums only draw out loudmouths and nutjobs looking for a soapbox. And its pretty clear that school officials do a good job of working through this sort of system-wide planning with big-picture fairness and impartiality - something individual parents are rarely able to do.
Still, such fundamentally important issues as school attendance zones and calendar changes ought to get a fair shake in front of parents before school trustees whack a rubber stamp on them.
Who knows: Those moms and dads just may have some good ideas, too.
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