We are writing in response to Barry Paschal's comments regarding the Columbia County School Calendar survey results. We are disappointed by what we view as his misrepresentation of the data received from the more than 5,000 responses.
Paschal (wrote) that those favoring a later start date are a vocal minority, based on the voter turnout of just more than 5,000 responses. This does not take into account the number of actual votes that 5,000 responses potentially represent. We were asked to fill out one survey per household. Our household includes two parents and two students, which is probably the average. If that is the case, then those 5,000 responses potentially represent 20,000 opinions.
Secondly, Paschal made it sound as though the electronic form was the best option for everyone, and he also insinuated that it was easy to cheat on that method by filling out more than one per household. We can only speak for ourselves, but we filled out only one survey and are offended by his flippant remarks.
We were also taken aback by remarks made by School Board Chairman Wayne Bridges at the last board meeting. It seems arrogant to assume that what he characterized as a low voter turnout signifies complete trust in our School Board. We don't consider the opinions of potentially 20,000 individuals to be a low voter turnout.
We are long-time residents of Evans, and are so proud of our great schools. That is why we were most disheartened by Paschal s irresponsible and divisive remarks that seem to serve only to pit Columbia County parents against our top-notch educators. We have always been the biggest cheerleaders of our children's teachers over the years. We have the utmost respect and regard for what they do. Teaching is as much a calling as preaching, and we have been blessed with some wonderful teachers in this county.
Those of us on the side of a later start date stated from the beginning that our reasons for wanting more of our summers back are as varied as the individuals who are making that request. To try to simplify the issue by saying that we just want another week of vacation reveals that Paschal hasn't been listening deeply. We have heard the following reasons just to name a few: more unscheduled and unstructured play and family time in a culture that works 24/7; time for early August family reunions with family members across the country who don't have to go back-to-school shopping in July; tourism industry issues for our coastal communities whose businesses are greatly impacted by early start dates; greater costs associated with keeping schools cool during the hottest month of the year; more time for older teens to earn extra income during summer jobs, etc.
We agree with School Board member Regina Buccafusco that the mid-August start date is a good compromise. People have their own personal reasons for even having an opinion on this issue, and for Paschal to presume that either side holds the key to absolute wisdom is to go beyond mere arrogance.
Margaret & John Meyers
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