We've barely had time to flip August's page on the calendar, and Columbia County's school year has already begun.
When classes started Tuesday morning, it was the earliest opening ever for the school system. Some new parents, particularly those moving to our community recently, may need a little background to understand the early start -- particularly if they moved from an area where summer vacation, like summer itself, lasts until after Labor Day.
Three years ago, when Columbia County school officials conducted a comprehensive study of the school calendar, one of the recommendations was to more closely align the public-school year to match local college calendars. The change would benefit joint-enrollment pupils who simultaneously attend high school and college, and help teachers pursuing college coursework.
Additionally, starting the year earlier allowed the first semester of classes to end before Christmas. Under the old calendar, students were at home for two weeks of Christmas break before returning for the final two weeks of the semester. That meant a lot of wasted time in review, making up for holiday forgetfulness before semester exams.
Once the changes were put in place, the school year in 2002 bumped the opening up to Aug. 7; in 2003 it was Aug. 6; this year, Aug. 3.
Bear in mind, though, the entire year isn't any longer than the state-mandated 180 days. It also ends earlier, in mid-May instead of June. Factored into the earlier start time, too, is that those 180 days are interspersed with long-weekend holidays that were put in place last year. In addition to the traditional Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break holidays, the school system added fall and winter breaks based on recommendations from a blue-ribbon panel of teachers.
After some first-year bumps, the system seems to have strong support; voters in the July 20 Republican primary overwhelmingly said they were pleased with the current school calendar.
or better or worse -- and while it has taken some adjustment, we think it's certainly better -- the calendar is set. The school year has now begun. Here's hoping it's another great one for Columbia County.
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