After two parent surveys, the Columbia County Board of Education last week approved a school calendar for the next two years nearly identical to the one this year - including the four-day fall break.
For two weeks, the board asked for public input on three calendar proposals that ranged from the four-day break to a two-day break. The calendar approved has pupils starting Aug. 3 and ending May 20.
The second proposal, with the three-day break, would have pushed the start date to Aug. 4, and the third proposal with the two-day break to Aug. 5. This year, school started Aug. 6.
This is the first year a new school calendar including fall and winter breaks has been tried. Coupled with Oct. 17, a staff development day and pupil holiday, the fall break Oct. 20-22 gave pupils six days away from the classroom. The mid-winter break stretches from Feb. 13-16.
Last year, the school year ended May 16. But the extra holidays this year have pushed the 180-day school year to end May 21. The school year is split into two halves, with the first semester ending before the Christmas holidays begin.
Of the 392 people responding to the survey, 255 were employees and parents, while 137 were parents. Of the employee/parent respondents, 62 percent favored the first calendar option. Results were mixed in the parent group, where 51 percent favored a four-day break, 13 percent favored a three-day break and 36 percent favored the shortest break.
"I don't look at it as a biased survey," Board Member Regina Buccafusco said. "If it's good for employee morale, why vote against it?"
Board member Lee Muns was the only one to opposed the new calendar.
"Two-hundred responses compared to 90,000 (residents) is not strong enough for me to have a basis to make a decision on," he said.
The calendar can be viewed on the school system's Web site at www.ccboe.net.
Columbia County's 2004-2005 school calendar:
* Aug. 3, school starts
* Sept. 6, pupil holiday
* Sept. 9, early release
* Oct. 15-20, Fall break
* Nov. 2, teacher workday/student holiday
* Nov. 24-26, student holiday
* Dec. 20-Jan. 3 holiday break
* Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day
* Feb. 18-21, winter break
* March 11, teacher workday/student holiday
* April 4-8, spring break
* May 20, school year ends
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