FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — The Fulton School System is seeking input on the school calendar, but while the information will look at the days in the year, school officials stress the instruction contained within those days is most important.
“There are many opinions about when the school year should start and end, but what’s more important is the quality of instruction that occurs during each school day,” said Fulton Superintendent Robert Avossa.
He said that the school calendar issue is “steeped in tradition” across the country, but the emphasis should focus on what is best for students.
To participate in the online survey, visit the Fulton Schools website at www.fultonschools.org and click on the “school calendar feedback” link on the home page.
While the seven questions on the online link ask about later and earlier starts and holiday breaks, it’s likely the next two years will look similar to the current calendar, with some “tweaks,” but few major overhauls.
“We are looking more for comments on the current structure, and not a major upheaval,” said Fulton School Board member Katie Reeves. “At some point, we are going to have to have a conversation about the calendar, but this is [probably] not the year.”
The online survey will be up through mid-October and the calendars could be adopted as early as November, pending a vote by the school board.
Fulton will likely align its calendar with other school systems, primarily with major breaks such spring and winter breaks. Avossa said the major Atlanta school systems will soon convene to discuss this issue and Fulton will be at the table.
With Fulton Schools moving to a charter system this year, Avossa said the issue of a local school creating its own calendar could be considered — if it did not create additional operating and logistical expenses. Years ago, Fulton County had a few schools in South Fulton that operated on a year-round, or balanced, calendar before moving back to a traditional calendar.
“As the charter cohorts begin to operationalize, we will take into consideration any and all of their suggestions, but it’s too early to speculate,” said Avossa. “We do know, though, that the increased cost and logistics, such as transportation, will make a different calendar among schools highly unlikely.”
A hot topic just a few years ago, the structure of the school calendar has been a relatively quiet topic more recently. The issue of a later start to the school year reached a fevered pitch three years ago in some metro areas, with parent groups launched and state legislators weighing in with a variety of bills related to school calendars.
While the angst among parents was not as fervent in Fulton County, parents did manage to get the start of the school year moved to the third week in August – the latest start date in the state – two years ago. That experiment was short-lived, with the school board moving it back to the second week of August last year, and again this year, to align it with many of the metro systems.
The problem with a late start, said school board members, is the goal to end the first semester prior to the winter break led to uneven semesters.