At Monday evenings (3.11.13) regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting the calendar for the 2013-2014 school year was approved by the Board. This calendar is essentially the same as the calendar that we are on for this school year. School will begin on Monday, August 19th and will end on Thursday, May 29th.
Creating a school calendar is a complicated endeavor. There are various factors that play into the creation. The State of Ohio sets the number of school days that students must attend, our contract with our Worthington Education Association dictates certain days will be granted to teachers for grading of exams, completing report cards and conferencing with parents. In Worthington this process is managed by a “Calendar Committee” that is made up of teachers, administrators, parents and community members. This committee meets each winter to try to embrace the diverse needs of all stakeholders and create a calendar that meets the needs of the greatest number of people.
This year the calendar committee’s first recommendation was for a radically different school calendar. School would have begun on August 14th and would have ended right at Memorial Day. The shift to an early start date was recommended so that first semester would be complete before the Winter Holiday break and students would not have to spend the break studying for finals that begin a week after they return in January. This shift would also permit more instructional days for students before students take state assessments in March and April. Finally, the recommended calendar did a better job than our current calendar in creating instructional blocks of time (5 day weeks) and tied teacher grading and training days to existing holidays so parents could take advantage of the time for vacations and family time. Surrounding districts such as Olentangy and Westerville have already made this shift.
In the end, the Board of Education determined that the new calendar was the right move, but at the wrong time. They felt comfortable adopting it as the tentative calendar for the 2014-2015 school year so that families had a chance to plan for this shift, but asked that we continue with our current calendar for next school year as some families had previously planned vacations, etc….I would have liked to see us make the switch now for academic reasons, but I understand that sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, and smarter people than I are in charge of this school district.
The 2014-2015 school calendar will represent a significant change from the status quo in Worthington. We believe it is the right move for students and, after timing adjustments are made, we believe that parents will see the benefits of this schedule. In a school district where our tag line used to be “Where Excellence is a Tradition” change is sometimes hard. Tradition can be positive and it can create challenges. The calendar always creates emotion. Hopefully by providing families a year of notice before our calendar shifts we will all be ready in August of 2014.