The Albemarle County schools’ calendar won’t change much for the 2012-2013 school year. The School Board voted Thursday to accept an Aug. 22 start date.
The School Board has been working on revising the schools’ schedule this summer and sent two surveys to parents, teachers and students to gather feedback on three schedule options. The board originally asked for feedback on three start dates: Aug. 8, Aug. 13 or Aug. 22.
After overwhelming response in favor of the latest date on the first survey, the board sent out a second survey, strictly seeking comment on two options, Aug. 13 and Aug. 22.
Diantha McKeel, of the Jack Jouett District, said she was happy with the Aug. 22 date.
“For me, it meets the requirement of professional development days that I think was one of the reasons we got into this discussion to begin with,” she said. “I think it includes some of the concerns we heard from staff.”
Albemarle County parent Michael Toms said he was happy with the board’s decision and appreciated that members listened to public input.
“I’m impressed that the School Board has learned to listen better to the community,” Toms said. “It was clearly not a foregone conclusion. They listened to the input and made a good decision. It was refreshing to see.”
On both surveys, the School Board took flak for suggesting that schools start earlier in the summer. Many parents accused the board of asking parents for their opinions after the decision was already made.
“When we ask for public input it does annoy me that people say, ‘Oh, why would you ask for public input, you’re just going to do what you want anyway,’” Pam Moynihan, of the Rio District, said. “We did the right thing by asking for input, and people are going to be people.”
Since the new calendar represents almost no change for the county schools’ calendar, According to county schools Director of Secondary Education Matt Haas, the county and city try to align school schedules because both divisions use the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center.
With so little change in the schedule, Haas said, it’s back to business as usual.
“Charlottesville and Albemarle will get together to iron out the calendar,” Haas said. “We always try to match things up the best we can.”
Board member Eric Strucko, of the Samuel Miller District, said he thought consistency in school schedules is important, which led him to choose the later start date.
“For me, the notion of consistency is key, staying close to what we have today,” he said. “While, yes, the bottom line point of this is to enhance education, family life, the day-to-day ins and outs of family life enter into it… And so days off, planning and proper coverage becomes part of it.”