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Spotsy school board changes start date to after Labor Day

BY PAMELA GOULD

The Spotsylvania School Board voted unanimously Monday to begin the 2013–14 school year the day after Labor Day.

That will align the school division with most school districts in the Fredericksburg region. Only Culpeper, Louisa and Fauquier counties had joined Spotsylvania in beginning the current school year in August.

The board had three options to choose from for next year and selected Option A, which is what the division’s Calendar Committee preferred. Both of the other options would have started the school year in August.

The board had a lengthy discussion and two other motions before making its decision.

Board member Dawn Shelley made the original motion for Option A. Ray Lora seconded it but proffered a substitute motion to change one of the make-up days.

Board member Gil Seaux then made a motion to go with Option C, which would have started the year on Aug. 26.

With three motions on the table, it required a bit of parliamentary research to sort out the process.

Seaux’s motion was voted on first and failed with only Seaux and Bill Blaine supporting it.

Lora then withdrew his motion, recognizing that it was going to fail.

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Carol Flenard provided additional data before the board’s deliberation. She said that more than 700 students showed up for school this year after the Aug. 21 start date.

That data reinforced one concern raised over the past two weeks as people weighed in on the calendar options.

Shelley, a Calendar Committee member, noted that nurses and attendance officers have had a hard time getting students registered when the division started in August while other divisions started after Labor Day.

The 2013–14 school year will start on Sept. 3 and end on June 13, 2014. The calendar includes a two-week winter break and one week off in the spring. Unlike this year, students will not make up the first five days of instruction missed because of bad weather.

Board members received hundreds of comments from the community and staff weighing in on the calendar since the three options were unveiled on Jan. 28.

Board members said the majority of people favored beginning the school year the day after Labor Day.

Superintendent Scott Baker created a Calendar Committee last fall, headed by principals at each school level. Principals at each school then organized meetings where parents, staff and others in the community could share their thoughts on the calendar.

Most favored a September start, according to data presented by the Calendar Committee in November.

The Calendar Committee is scheduled to present a proposal for the 2014–15 school year on March 25. The board is to vote on it April 8. Thereafter, the goal is for the division to have a school calendar finalized about 16 months in advance.

The division implemented an August start date in 2005 in order to give students more instructional time ahead of the Standards of Learning tests. However, schools now have flexibility in setting the dates for those tests so that is not necessary.

Each year a division wishes to start before September, it must get permission from the state. A factor in getting permission is the number of days missed because of bad weather, which can fluctuate widely.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

pgould@freelancestar.com

 

2013–14 CALENDAR

The Spotsylvania School Board chose Option A for the 2013–14 school year calendar. The board chose from among three options.

START: Sept. 3

WINTER BREAK: Two weeks

SPRING BREAK: One week

END: June 13, 2014

GRADUATION: June 6 and 7, 2014

 

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