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Longer school days ahead after spring break
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Have a good rest, Hall County school system students.

When you get back from next week's spring break, the school day will get an hour longer for 12 days. The additional time at school is to make up for lost school days during winter snowstorms that shut down much of North Georgia.

"We are encouraging students to bring an extra snack and principals have made arrangements for snacks to be available for our younger children on an as-needed basis," Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said in a memo this week to school employees.

He also asked employees to "take every opportunity ... this week to remind our families" of the school day extension.

The extended days end the day before students take the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

The decision has drawn mixed reactions from the community. Some have complained the extra hour would be a burden on students with no real educational gain. Others have said it was the best decision given the circumstances.

The school system surveyed parents and staff about when to make up the days.

School on Saturday was voted the least popular choice, and about half the parents backed a decision to lengthen the school day while about half were opposed. When it came to extending the school year, 57 percent of staff and 49 percent of parents supported the choice.

Gainesville also adjusted school days to make up for the lost time.

"We extended the instructional time. We took minutes off lunch and planning and started 5-10 minutes earlier in the morning," Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said. "So, we built in time during the day."

Gainesville schools had planned to take Friday off as a furlough day, but that was exchanged for a Dec. 16 snow day.

Both systems will be off for spring break next Monday through Friday.

Dyer said she expects to spend some time during the week working on next year's budget, which takes effect July 1.

Also, some minor work - mostly touch-up painting - will take place at some schools.

Hall County schools will be largely quiet during the week.
"We have some very small things going on, but we usually take the opportunity (that week) to do some extra cleaning with our custodial service," said Damon Gibbs, who oversees maintenance and construction in the system.

Gibbs, currently the Johnson High School principal as well, will leave that post June 1 to work full-time on maintenance and projects related to the 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax.

Also, the Gainesville Board of Education changed its April meeting schedule because of spring break.

The board, which normally meets the first and third Mondays of the month, will meet April 11 and April 25.