County schools may pass calendar Thursday

Published 3:45 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When the Alabama legislature passed the School Calendar Bill last week, it sent virtually every school system in the state scrambling back to the drawing board in an effort to revamp its school calendar for the 2012-13 year.

Thursday, administrators across the state have been invited to attend a webinar by the Alabama Department of Education, which is designed to help the schools set their calendars without major interruptions.

“It kind of threw us a curveball ball because we’d already passed a calendar that all the schools had input on,” said Marengo County Superintendent of Education Luke Hallmark. “We’ll just have to revise it like everybody else.”

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Hallmark said the county board would be a participant in Thursday’s webinar and planned to vote on the new calendar at its meeting that afternoon.

“It can be done starting Aug. 20 and still ending May 24,” Hallmark said of getting in the required number of days of instruction while preserving school breaks and holidays. “You’d have to cut Thanksgiving back to just Thursday and Friday, two weeks at Christmas, and one week at Spring break, but do away with other holidays except the federally mandated ones.”

One of the county system’s biggest assets may be that its four schools already hold session for more than required.

“We already exceed the number of instruction minutes per day,” Hallmark said. “The state requires 360 minutes, and we’re already at 385 now. So that may give us a little extra wiggle room.”

The bill, passed into law last week, requires schools to hold session for 180 days or the equivalent of 1,085 hours.

Among the options school boards will have to consider in order to comply with the law is adding a few minutes to each school day or eliminating some of the holidays and weather days from the calendar.