Starting Sunday, Columbia County residents can once again offer input on their choice for the school system's calendar.
It is a redundant request, one already performed repeatedly in the past. But because our wavering elected officials found the winds of a vocal minority blowing hard against their wetted fingers, the issue of the school start date is once again before the public.
Fine. Let's get on with it.
Three choices are available for citizen review, and would go into effect for the 2007-2008 school year. The only significant difference is in the way the calendars treat the first half of the school year:
Calendar A provides a later start to the year. Students would start class Aug. 23, and first-semester exams would be held two weeks after Christmas holidays.
Calendar B is a moderate change, starting school about a week later than the current calendar and skipping the fall break in favor of ending the first semester before Christmas holidays.
Calendar C is most like the current calendar. It starts school Aug. 6, includes a fall break and ends the first semester before Christmas.
Starting Sunday, those who want to express their views on the calendars will be able to vote online at www.ccboe.net, or with paper ballots available at the county's schools. The system is far from perfect: Zealots for any of the options can be expected to vote as many times as they can find computers to give them access, and to mark a paper ballot, too. Voting will be early and often.
The school system's calendar committee has done a good job of setting up questions that will help drill down to the core of what citizens want according to their particular interest group, from parents of elementary children, to educators, to those with no children at all.
Because of the built-in likelihood of dishonesty in the balloting, statistical analysis of the votes will be vitally important in determining the calendar citizens want.
But after all the votes are cast, counted and analyzed, even more important is the will of the county's school board members to do what they said they would do when they ran for office: Lead.
Going through the survey process yet again isn't "empowering" for citizens, as some may think. It is instead an abdication by board members unwilling to stand by their own decisions in the face of organized complaints.
The most important outcome of this latest survey - no matter what the result - would be for board members to finally say enough is enough, to set firm guidelines for future system calendars, and then put the issue to rest.
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