Changes in works for Knox County school calendar

Changes in the works for Knox County school calendar


KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County students will spend more time in the classroom in the future, but just how much more time and when is still being discussed.

A calendar for the 2014-15 school year was discussed Monday by Knox County school board members, but no decision was reached on setting it.

Board members decided to take more time to consider the details.

"It has some impacts on families that we want to make sure people have a chance to look at," said Knox County Board chair Karen Carson.

At Monday's work session Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said the state now requires students attend a total of 180 school days. The way Knox County has calculated that time is no longer accepted.

The Knox County calendar had 175 days, but put students in the classroom an extra half an hour longer than required. The extra time was calculated to be equal to 13 instructional days, making the time students spend in the classroom longer than required.

The Tennessee Department of Education now requires all school districts to schedule at least 180 actual days.

Knox County Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Alves is involved with the schedule making process.

Alves and others are trying figure which 5 days will be added to the school year.

"I don't think there are any easy solutions and decisions to be made, but that is flexibility and those are the trade-offs we need to talk about," said Alves.   

Some of the changes being considered for the 2014-2015 calendar include removing what had been a proposed half day off before Thanksgiving and keeping schools open on Election Day.

Knox County School Board chair Karen Carson feels one of the two days will have to be sacrificed, she supports school on Election Day.

"I think with early voting, the numbers on Election Day may be down, and it may be a fair tradeoff," said Carson.     

6News asked Knox County Administrator of Elections Cliff Rogers on the possibility of having school on election day next year. 

Rogers says it's "Horrible idea" which would  create a logistical nightmare.

Elections are required to be held in public buildings, two thirds of county voting precincts are held in county schools.

Also under consideration are five fewer in-service and admin days, and moving the Fall Break to a Monday and Tuesday instead of Thursday and Friday.

Some parents are worried the calendar could cut into vacation time.

"We already struggle to be able to take vacations during the school year. Fall break isn't really long, Thanksgiving break isn't really long," said Jen Beiharz, a Sequoyah Elementary School parent.

The calendar change is okay with one parent, Jennifer Woodruff, a step-mother to 2 children at Sequoyah Elementary School.   

"I think 175 days feels short for some reason, and I think 180 would give some more consistently and stability to the children's lives.  I don't think 5 more days is asking a huge amount from us," said Woodruff.

The school board will take up the calendar during its June meeting.

School board members are encouraging the public to provide input on the 2014-15 calendar.


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