Board To Consider Adjusting School Calendar

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - You may soon have a say when your kids head back to school. The Knox County School Board plans to survey parents about a possible school calendar makeover.

Right now, schools are set to have the earliest start in modern times. That's August 6, 2008.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy joins us with why frustrated parents say that's just too early.

Parents told the board two weeks ago it's because of the early August the sweltering heat, school A/C problems, and cut-ins to family time. They told the board they want input. Now, they're set to get it.

Her kids just headed back to class, but the splish splash of summer's already on Valerie Coleman's mind.

"I believe we're starting way too early," Coleman said.

And next year Knox County students are set to crack the books three days earlier. Parents say they're tired of summer's disappearing act.

"We're be-bopping between here and Memphis, where my family's from and it's very crazy," Coleman said.

"I just want Knox County parents to have a vote and say in what the school calendar is," parent Amy Olson said.

Now they, and you, could get that say. Monday night, the School Board decided to outsource a community survey.

"I think the school system would be glad to conduct it's own survey, but I think there'll always be questions of bias," school board member Karen Carson said.

And the questions abound. The board still has to decide what type of survey and when you'll get it.

"What we asked is for them to do it as soon as they can so we can get results back by January or February," Carson said.

Exactly who they'll survey's also up for debate. Most likely the board says parents, community members, teachers and high school students could have a say. The bottom line...

"It just needs to be statistically valid," Carson said.

The board plans to ask about three possible calendar options.

"What I hear from the board is give the community an example of calendar that starts after labor day and ends whenever, the first week of June," Carson said.

The other possible options: year round school and another in-between choice. Coleman's glad because when this school year ends...

"The pool's aren't open. The lakes are still cold. You know, I've got all August now the lakes are warm, and now I have to go back to school," Coleman said.

But all that could now change.

The board says the last community survey they did was on school uniforms. That was three years ago and cost just under five thousand dollars. The board says this survey will be bigger and more expensive.

Summer may get longer, but time in the classroom still has to meet the state's required 180 days. So some in-the-school-year vacation days may get the ax.

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