Same dilemma, different year.
Most local school districts are in a holding pattern while recognizing the need to approve school calendars for 2013-14.
Locally, Florence is the only district that has approved a calendar. They did so last week, abiding by the state’s requirement to begin classes Aug. 19 and ending the school year on May 29.
Other districts are waiting to see if legislation passes that would give control back to local school boards to determine their own calendars. Legislators are reviewing a school flexibility bill that some educators say would provide schools with more financial flexibility and more control on such matters as their school calendars.
The Muscle Shoals school board was the most recent to delay a vote on the calendar.
Board president Pam Doyle said the calendar should be adopted as soon as possible, but the board should wait on potential legislation to be settled.
Superintendent Jeff Wooten said the parameters set by the Legislature for the school year to consist of 180 days of instruction make it nearly impossible for classes to end by Memorial Day.
Wooten told school board members that until the calendar issues are resolved, school officials will proceed as if school is starting back Aug. 19.
“By law, that’s the start date and it would entail a calendar very similar to this year’s,” he said. “We hope to have a calendar to adopt in the March meeting. We realize people are planning vacations and trips, but last year we adopted a calendar early and had to take on a new one.”
Wooten said he has concerns about the mandated calendar, including more days between breaks.
“We’d go from the Martin Luther King holiday (in January) to spring break with no breaks in between,” he said. “That’s a long time.”
Superintendents in Colbert County met last week to discuss calendar issues in hopes of each system having similar calendars.
Tuscumbia Superintendent Mary Kate Smith said her board will wait until March to address the issue.
“We’re looking at a couple variations,” she said. “We have to be practical, but people need a little break now and then. I’d prefer an additional day off in October and a full two weeks at Christmas.” This year, Tuscumbia students returned from the Christmas holidays on Jan. 2.
If allowed to use an alternate calendar, Smith said she would propose an Aug. 12 school start.
Lauderdale County school officials say they prefer an earlier start to the school year.
Assistant Superintendent Mark Butler said an Aug. 9 start would allow for a week out of school at Thanksgiving and three additional days during the Christmas holidays.
“We’d welcome moving the start of school up if they give us the option,” Butler said.
Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or lisa.singleton-rickman@TimesDaily.com.