With the opening of Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School’s new building scheduled for this year, Gainesville City Schools has had to expand its options for the 2013-2014 school calendar.
On Tuesday, during the board of education meeting at New Holland Core Knowledge Academy, the board narrowed the choice to two calendars. Those choices will now go to school governance councils for feedback before the board makes its decision.
Hall County Schools approved its 2013-2014 school calendar during last week’s board of education meeting, with school starting on Aug. 12.
“The main challenge (with setting the calendar) is that the rest of the school district has their needs met, particularly the high school and their testing,” said Merrianne Dyer, Gainesville superintendent. “The second challenge is not really knowing when (Fair Street) will open. Things look really good right now and we think we could get in there this summer, but we can’t count on it.”
Fair Street was scheduled to begin classes in January of 2014, but setting the schedule hinges on when construction is complete. Original plans dictated the school move from its current Wood’s Mill High School location over winter break, but the move could be over the summer if everything goes perfectly during the tail end of construction.
The city is also trying to stay aligned with the county’s school calendar.
The board will look at two different options, with one starting school on Aug. 19 and the other Aug. 14. Both would give winter break the last week of December and the first week of January.
The major difference is one calendar has a three-day fall break in October, while the other offers only one day.
The county board of education approved a 180-day calendar for teachers and a 174-day calendar for students.
Thanksgiving break for county students will be Nov. 25 through Nov. 29, and students will be off from Dec. 18 until Jan. 7 for Christmas break.
School officials said they aim for 190-day calendars for teachers and would like to see students in class 180 days, but financial planning does not allow for the full calendar.
“The calendar this year has been a bit more difficult,” said Eloise Barron, assistant superintendent of Hall County Schools.
But, officials said, once the fiscal year 2014 budget is approved, the board will look into adding back days.
“If the budget allows us to do so, we’d like to put those days back in,” Barron said.
Last year, the school board approved a similar calendar, but restored one furlough day for teachers.
Gainesville will also likely start off with 10 furlough days, but looks to add some back throughout the year.
“It’s being realistic budget wise to put them in there,” Dyer said. “The second thing is by placing them strategically in there throughout the year to have the least impact on student learning.”
The city board of education will likely look at the governance council’s feedback and make a decision as soon as possible.
“The parents and employees really like us to get it set (early) and the board would like to do that as soon as they can for that purpose,” Dyer said.
Hall County Schools’ calendar can be found at: www.hallco.org.