Mark your calendars.You'll be getting a new fall and winter vacation next year - or at least your children will.
Columbia County school-board members recently approved the 2003-2004 calendar by a vote of 4-1, but not before hearing strong opposition from member Lee Muns and a group of parents who attended the meeting in Appling to oppose the calendar, which adds five extra holidays to the year.
The new calendar, which starts Wednesday, Aug. 6 - a day sooner than this year - includes a "fall break" in October (two days off to create a four-day weekend) and another four-day, "mid-winter break" to coincide with Presidents Day in February.
"Has any thought been given to how working parents will provide child care with the new vacation days added to the calendar?" said Michelle Ward, a Riverside Elementary School parent. "... We are starting earlier and ending later every year ... Why can't Columbia County find a calendar that will work and stick with it?"
Muns said the public should have had more input into the calendar, which was drafted by a committee of the system's teachers of the year.
"It should have been a community effort, a collaborative effort," Muns said. "We should have made it available to them and listened to their concerns. After all, the children are our customers, the parents are No. 2 and the teachers are our employees."
Board Chairman Wayne Bridges disagreed.
"This is a job of the superintendent and staff to come up with a school calendar and it's our job to vote on it," Bridges said.
Muns replied, "You can vote on it tonight and you will be saying something - that it doesn't do any good for people to say anything to this board because it falls on deaf ears."
COLUMBIA COUNTY SCHOOL CALENDAR 2003-2004
July 24, 25, 28-30 Principals' Conference
July 31, August 1, 4, 5 Pre-Planning
August 6 First Day of School
Sept. 1 Holiday/Labor Day
Sept. 23 Progress Report
Oct. 1 *Early Release/Parent Conferences
Oct. 8 End of Nine Weeks
Oct. 15 Report Card
Oct. 17 Student Holiday/Teacher Staff Development
Oct. 20-22 Holidays/Fall Break
Nov. 14 Progress Report
Nov. 26, 27, 28 Holidays/Thanksgiving
Dec. 19 End First Semester
Dec. 22-January 2 (inclusive) Holidays
Jan. 5 Student Holiday/Teacher Workday
Jan. 6 First Day Second Semester
Jan. 13 Report Cards
Jan. 19 Holiday/Martin Luther King
Feb. 9 Progress Report
Feb. 13, 16 Holidays/Mid-Winter Break
March 4 *Early Release/Parent Conferences
March 11 End Third Nine Weeks
March 12 Student Holiday/Teacher Staff Development
March 19 Report Cards
April 5-9 Holidays/Spring Holidays
April 21 Progress Report
May 21 End Second Semester
May 22 Graduation
May 24, 25, 26 Post Planning
May 26 **Report Cards
* Middle and High Schools - 11:30 a.m., Elementary School - 12:15 p.m.
** High school report card day will be determined by receipt of End Of Course Test results from the Georgia Department of Education.
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