The DeKalb Board of Education, prompted by feedback from several thousand interested parties, voted to approve Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson’s recommended 2013-14 calendar during an Oct. 8 business meeting.
The move effectively ushers in the “balanced” calendar — featuring a shortened summer break — concept to the district. Classes will begin Aug. 5, 2013 and end May 29, 2014.
“Teachers, principals and the superintendent feel it will help us improve academically,” said DeKalb Board of Education Chair Eugene Walker. “Students [currently] spend so much time away from school during the summer they miss or lose a whole lot of what they learned during the school year … so we shortened summer.”
While the approved calendar has an earlier start date, it includes two additional weeks of vacation during the school year.
“We are grateful to our calendar committee for sharing their time and expertise to put this calendar together,” Atkinson said. “We must continue to challenge our students to achieve victory in every classroom … and this calendar will reduce the amount of time our children are away from our schools.”
Atkinson noted that the board’s vote does not include early release days — which will be an administrative decision.
Among other changes under the new plan, DeKalb students will be out for spring break around the same time as their peers in other Atlanta metro area school districts in 2013, from April 7 through 11.
The school board received more than 12,000 responses for input before reaching its decision on the balanced calendar.
Walker said he wants parents to buy into the scheduled changes the same way the board’s other constituents appear to have done.
“I’m hoping that parents will give the [balanced] calendar a chance,” Walker said. “[The school board] is trying to work with the superintendent and her staff to help us close the academic gap in so many areas.”
The 2013-14 calendar includes 180 days of instruction for students as well as 190 teacher-contract days.
Semesters will be divided equally, with 90 days of instruction for each, according to a report from the superintendent’s office. The first semester — including final exams and end of course texts — will wrap up prior to students’ winter break.
In embracing the balanced calendar, DeKalb will be following in the footsteps of other large urban school districts, including those in Indianapolis and Nashville.