By Karen Hall
The 2012-2013 school calendar now only needs a vote of approval at a school board meeting to be adopted for the next school year.
The teachers' calendar committee met last week, and unanimously voted to approve the calendar they had agreed on.
Members of the school board's calendar committee also attended the meeting, and once the teachers were finished, they voted three to one to recommend the teachers' calendar to the full school board for approval.
Committee chairman Barbara Kennedy cast the only "no" vote.
"There are parents who have concerns," Kennedy explained.
She favors a shorter fall break, explaining that this would allow more instructional days before Christmas, which would hopefully improve end-of-course test scores.
"I'm disappointed secondary teachers are not receptive to increased instructional days," said Kennedy.
"Disappointment is part of being a board member," said committee member Randy Perryman. "Will two or three more days make a significant difference in test scores?"
"No," exclaimed several of the teachers, with one adding, "There's more factors that influence test scores than the calendar."
"We teach 180 days," said teachers' calendar committee chairman Julie Thomas, supervisor of secondary instruction. "Every day counts."
She asked committee members one last time if they wanted to add a third personal development day.
"We all agreed on two" and "We've all been clear we want two days," said committee members.
Not everyone agreed that two personal development days were enough.
"They felt the extra professional development day at Oak Grove was beneficial," said elementary supervisor of instruction Vylatte Gooch. "It's the difference between elementary and high school needs. I think we need another one."
Oak Grove principal Judy Rickman agreed with her, stating, "I think we need three."
"I do understand the difference," said Thomas. "I've taught elementary, middle and high school."
A survey on the school calendar was sent out to parents and community members for the first time this year, and about 1,300 responses were received.
"I think it's a pretty high number for the first year," said Thomas, when Kennedy pointed out Marshall County schools serve more than 5,000 students.
Teachers' committee members decided to make the day before Christmas break last until 11:30 a.m., with school buses running, and also decided to have their second professional development day on Jan. 3 instead of Feb. 15. This results in the last day of school for 2013 falling on May 23.
"I think it's a good compromise," said Thomas. "I'm always open to suggestions on how to make the process better."
"Our two committees need to integrate," said board member Curt Denton. "We need to start work on the next calendar immediately. If the school board and teachers would start working together this county would turn around."