Roanoke County wants input on 3 school calendar options

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ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) -  Roanoke County Schools wants feedback on school start dates. There is a survey with three proposals and they want parents and teachers to weigh in. Dr. Ken Nicely, Roanoke County Schools Administration Director says every year they get input from PTA groups and teacher groups but this is the first time recently they have asked in a big survey like this.

They've laid out three options with start dates of August 9th, 14th, or 23rd. With the earliest date that would mean teachers go back August 1st.

Past input said people wanted longer Winter and Spring Breaks. But Roanoke County says there's a trend for divisions that start prior to Labor Day to start earlier in August and finish first semester before Winter Break. That would mean that students didn't have to take tests after winter break and the material would be fresh.

If the school year does start earlier that would mean this summer is shortened so there is a question that addresses that on the survey.

"What would you think about maybe easing into this and having more of a traditional or sort of a mid range start date this year but go ahead and announce ahead of time that we're going to do an earlier start date. What do you think? Would you be in favor of that?" said Dr. Nicely.

As you can imagine this is getting a lot of reaction on facebook.

Allison writes "I love the idea of kids being out where families can travel over Memorial Day. I think having the kids start back August 9 works out great ! I know that our family does vacation in June and July."

While Angie says "We are soooo thankful to still enjoy having August included in summer break!! July ends your summer break??? That is crazy!!! Please don't jump on the bandwagon just because everyone else is making the change!!"

"Of course people have lots of opinions and so I have to put that together and see where it ends up and what the consensus is," said Dr. Nicely.

You have until Wednesday, January 18 to take the six question survey. Here is a link to the survey and proposed calendars.

Information from Roanoke County Schools:

Roanoke County Public Schools is seeking public input on three draft calendars for the 2017-2018 school year.  Students, staff, parents and the general public are invited to submit their feedback on these draft calendars by taking a brief survey at the link above.

General considerations for all calendar proposals: 

  • Must have a minimum of 180 student days or 990 teaching hours (Va. Code 20-521-10)
  • The RCPS elementary school day is 6 hours and 30 minutes for students and the middle/high school day for students is 7 hours and 5 minutes.
  • On early dismissal days for professional development (PD) and the Thanksgiving holiday, the days are reduced by two hours.
  • Teachers (200-day contract) are paid for 12 non-teaching days for PD and planning.
  • Teachers (200-day contract) are paid for 8 holidays and have 10 non-paid holidays.
  • The academic year is divided into two semesters of roughly the same length due to semester classes. Note that second semester is sometimes slightly longer in consideration of instructional time used for SOL testing in May.
  • Past input from families and staff have indicated a preference for maintaining longer Winter and Spring Breaks.
  • RCPS currently is eligible for a waiver to start school prior to Labor Day. The requirement is that school divisions must have missed an average of 8 instructional days during five of the previous 10 years due to emergency closings.
  • A trend exists for divisions that start prior to Labor Day to start earlier in August and finish first semester before Winter Break. The school year ends before Memorial Day in May. Locally, Botetourt and Franklin Counties start in early August and finish before Memorial Day. Doing so provides families with two full months of summer vacation (all of June and July) and avoids having the first semester extend past Winter Break.
  • Note that the days for Parent-Teacher Conferences are included on the calendars. The exact times are still under consideration.