This may get complicated before it's all over with heck, who are we kidding; it's complicated now but Columbia County school officials are again seeking public input for a school calendar.
The discussion cranked up Tuesday when School Super-intendent Tommy Price presented results from a survey conducted through the school system's Web site. The survey's primary purpose was to find out the popularity of the new fall break.
More than 800 people responded to the survey, and nearly 90 percent say they like the break, Price says. Preliminary results a couple of weeks ago from just over 200 respondents found similar approval, but the numbers weren't broken down to show how many responses came from parents and how many were from school employees.
The new figures still show most of the responses came from school employees. But even among the 197 who said they don't work for the school system, the fall break gets 71 percent approval.
till, there's a price to pay for every day off. Price has put together a couple of calendars to carry the school system through the next two years, and making room for the fall break has a ripple effect. It means the school year could start earlier, or that the Christmas break lasts less than two weeks.
School Board members aren't too happy with either prospect, and they're guessing parents won't be, either. "If we're going to have a fall break, let's have a decent fall break," says Chairman Wayne Bridges. "But if you want two weeks at Christ-mas, you've got to do something."
That "something" is... another survey! This coming week on the school system's Web site www.ccboe.net there will be a choice between three calendars:
School would start Aug. 3, 2004 (a Tuesday) and close six days (including the weekend) for fall break;
Option two starts school Aug. 4, cutting one day from the fall break; and,
Option three would start school Aug. 5, and cut two days from the fall break.
All three proposed calendars keep a two-week Christ-mas break. In essence, the survey asks which is more important: a longer fall break or a later start to the year.
On second thought, that's not complicated at all. My vote is for the second option, which seems like a fair compromise.
Speaking of compromise, there may be a need for some regarding schedules. Just as local lawmakers finalized Dec. 18 as the day for meeting with county officials in their annual pre-legislative discussions, Price announced to trustees that U.S. Rep. Johnny Isakson is coming to Columbia County that day and wants to meet with school officials.
Isakson who is generally considered the heavy favorite in the race to replace the retiring U.S. Sen. Zell Miller is seeking local feedback on the federal "No Child Left Behind" law. He'll get an earful here; school officials are still trying to figure out the regulations and mandates that have made the law such a burden.
The scene at last Monday's Turkey Fest at the Peppermill Restaurant was a lot like the first Thanksgiv-ing, except that the chiefs outnumbered the Indians.
So many "celebrities" volunteered to serve that the diners could hardly sip their tea without getting asked if they needed a refill. We were just so darn helpful.
The diners, bless their hearts, were just so darn generous: The event brought in more than $6,500 for Golden Harvest Food Bank and Columbia County Cares.
The real generosity, though, is from Peppermill owners Glen Kersh and Ling-Feng Tang, and Tang's husband, Bob Hicks. They gave away hundreds of Thanksgiving dinners, and expected nothing in return.
What they deserve is lots of paying customers who appreciate a business run by people with good hearts. Go see them.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to bpaschal@ newstimesonline.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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