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Cobb School Board Approves Superintendent's Calendar

By a 4-2 vote, members adopted Michael Hinojosa's recommendation to begin the 2013-14 school year on Aug. 7.

The Cobb Board of Education adopted an academic year 2013-14 calendar Thursday night that left some members of the appointed calendar committee disappointed.

By a 4-2 vote, the board approved a recommendation by Superintendent Michael Hinojosa for a 190-day instructional calendar that would begin on Aug. 7, 2013 and conclude on May 21, 2013.

Included in the vote was an amendment by board member Alison Bartlett to use fall semester instructional days for possible furlough days that may come up during future budget deliberations.

Hinojosa's recommendation was a modification of various proposals considered by the calendar committee, which was made up of parents and school system teachers and staff.

While that panel could not come to an agreement on starting dates, it expressed a general desire for more and longer breaks than what was approved, which has no full-week break in the fall before the Thanksgiving holiday (see attached PDF).

In a public comment session before the meeting, three calendar committee members said Hinojosa ignored their wishes.

"We came to a consensus with frequent breaks," said Smyrna parent Lisa Miler. "Dr. Hinojosa disregarded some important factors," upsetting her and others for not presenting his recommendation to the committee before making it public earlier this month.

While Hinojosa apologized to the calendar committee for that "mistake," he said that there were "a myriad of opinions on the topic" that prompted him to develop what he has termed a compromise.

"There was no clear consensus on the committee," Hinojosa said. "It was all over the place, no matter what they discussed.

"I did honor the intent of the committee. I don't really care what calendar we have, but a lot of people are wanting for us to make a decision."

Hinojosa proposed the creation of the committee to avoid future situations over the calendar that embroiled the board a year ago.

School board member David Banks, at the center of that calendar controversy, proposed at Thursday's meeting for a calendar to start on Aug. 5 and end on May 30, incorporating the longer breaks preferred by the calendar committee.

It was the same calendar he offered at this month's work session, but Banks was the only vote in favor of his amendment. He and outgoing board member Lynnda Eagle voted against final approval, with the latter objecting because of "all of the changes and all the amendments" that she said went against the board's intention of supporting whatever Hinojosa recommended.

In addition to Bartlett, board members Scott Sweeney, Tim Stultz and Kathleen Angelucci voted in favor of the Hinojosa calendar.

Board member David Morgan was absent from the meeting on family business.

Miller and other calendar committee members favoring the longer breaks wanted a school starting date of Aug. 1. But Sweeney pointed out that busy summer schedules for school construction projects, family vacations, student jobs and extracurricular activities like band camps would make that timeframe untenable.

Unlike last year, however, the disagreements were brief and the rhetoric wasn't nearly as sharp.

"Part of our own policy says that we respect what the public wants," Banks said right before the final vote. "And if we don't do that, we're not fulfilling our duty."

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Chantal October 26, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Looks pretty much the same as this years calendar. Once again, not listening to the people of the community.
Janet October 26, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I think we can pretty much say the people making decisions are either stupid or don't care about the surveys they take.
Nick October 26, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Thank you Mr. Hinojosa. Love the calendar for next year!! Thanks for listening to the people of the community!!
Chantal October 26, 2012 at 04:02 PM
this is not a balanced calendar, like the people voted for.
Nick October 26, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Not all the people voted for a balanced calendar. We don't need extra breaks in our family so I love the calendar :)
Chantal October 26, 2012 at 05:56 PM
No, not all, just the majority.
Mic I October 26, 2012 at 06:02 PM
What people? The 30% minority that didn't vote for the balanced calendar? The senior citizens who don't even have kids in school and just want the kids to run around all summer and lose everything they've lost all year in school? He didn't listen to the calendar committee at all. The calendar committee submitted 2 options for fall semester and 2 options for spring semester, they were all very alike, they had week long breaks in Sept/Oct and in Feb, it was not all over the place, I have seen the submissions. One day in October and the day that's already a holiday in Feb isn't a compromise of their suggestions. Just another attempt to hide from what the majority wants from this ridiculous board and to do what they want when it pleases them...i.e. Now they are taking the suggestion of the Superintendent, when the last Superintendent suggested they keep the balanced calendar for 3 years like they promised. That's okay, let's see what happens in November with Bartlett. The majority has already spoken by keeping Banks in there. Hope Sweeney, Stultz, and Angelucci enjoy the next two years, because they won't be sitting behind those desks when their time for re-election comes up. They need to listen to the people in the community, NOT Georgians Needs Summers.
Mic I October 26, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Thanks, Chantal, you took the words out of my mouth. 70% voted for the balanced calendar and were completely ignored.
Nick October 26, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Maybe you should put your children in private school so you can have your mini vacations throughout the school year.
Chantal October 26, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Fact -- test scores were up during the balanced calendar. Fact - the amount of days that teachers & students were absent was lower. It's not about vacations.
Mic I October 26, 2012 at 06:26 PM
You traditional calendar people are 1) RUDE, because that was a nasty toned comment, and 2) completely misinformed. It's not about vacations. For me personally, I can't afford vacations or private school, I really wish I could, we haven't taken a vacation in years because we are working hard just to survive in this economy. It's about breaks for the children's minds. School is much more difficult and faster paced than when I was a kid. My kids loved the year with the break so they could refresh. In all honesty, a long summer would work best for me because my parents live in Florida and it allows us to actually take a vacation without spending money, but I'm not looking at what's convenient for me, I am looking at what's best for my kids. The summers are so long and the kids do not retain the information that they learned all year. They lose so much that it takes a while for the teachers to get them back on track once school does start. They aren't going to lose information with a one week break, but they will lose it with a 10-12 week break. Plus, with the budget concerns, the balanced calendar saved a huge amount of money and my children got taught by the teacher more often instead of a substitute.
Mit October 26, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Fact - test scores had double-digit increase when balanced calendar was replaced. Fact - student absences in lower performing schools increased with the balanced calendar. Fact - teacher absences decreased - as would be expected - because of new policy that warned teachers that absences would be considered in criteria to layoff teachers (with or without balanced calendar).
Nick October 26, 2012 at 07:32 PM
My child doesn't need breaks during the school year because he doesn't learn anything the week before a break or the week after the break. The week before they are too excited about the break and the week after they have to settle back down to start learning again. What do all of you parents do that work as I and my husband do to amke ends meet. We don't have a sitter during these breaks so one of us has to take off from work for the week. I don't get 6 weeks off during the school year-do you?
Mit October 26, 2012 at 07:34 PM
It's also hard to comprehend a week-long break in October, ON TOP OF, the week of 1/2 days they have - this week.
Mic I October 26, 2012 at 07:36 PM
The balanced calender did not have an adverse affect for that school year, in fact: ITBS Grade Equivalency results improved for the first time since 2007 GHSWT passing rates improved by 4% Winter EOCT passing rates in math improved by 11% 8th Grade Writing Test passing rates improved by 5% 5th Grade Writing Test passing rates improved by 6% GHSGT passing rates improved by 2% Also, teachers were absent 15,000 fewer days than the previous year, which resulted in a direct financial savings of over 1 million dollars (the county didn't have to hire subs). Plus the students were taught by their teachers and not subs. Student absenteeism was down 27,600 days in the first semester of the balanced calendar school year (student attendance is a direct factor in AYP). This amounts to a decrease of 7.5% as compared to the first semester of the previous year. Out of 120 schools, 75.8% reported improvements in student attendance, and 24.2% reported an increase. You are always going to have some schools that under perform, that's just life. So do we punish others? However, our test scores continue to rise each year, so I don't think anyone can claim one calendar is better than the other as far as test scores. However, the savings in teacher absenteeism and the quality of learning that our students get by being taught by their teacher instead of a sub is obvious. And it's not all because of the new policy...that policy could have never led to that amount of days.
Mic I October 26, 2012 at 07:45 PM
I actually work from home so the breaks make it easier for me to spread out my money, I only get paid for the hours I work, and am a contractor so I don't earn vacation time, and summer is a long stretch of time to not make money. However, THAT is not the issue and shouldn't even be a consideration, what's best for the kids is what's important. School isn't a babysitter for your children. It is the same amount of days, you have to do something with your kids during the summer, just switch it up and do it throughout the year (high school babysitters are out of school at the same time). As far as learning before and after, my teachers made sure to continue teaching those weeks, so it didn't affect any learning at all. With that logic, then what about Thanksgiving break, Christmas break (2 LONG weeks), Spring Break? Should we cut those out too? It's the same thing, just different timing.
Mic I October 26, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I can see Mit's point about a break in October right around 1/2 days, the break was usually in September or early October (that is what it was supposed to be anyway, when they made and passed the 3 years worth of calendars), so wasn't such an issue, but that definitely is something to think about. I personally hate the 1/2 days, I wish they could just do 2 or 3 days off and fit in the conferences, but I think the 1/2 days count as full days as far as the number of days per year that is required by law, that's why they do it this way. Good point, though as far as the timing if it were to be in October.
Mit October 26, 2012 at 07:50 PM
"However, our test scores continue to rise each year, so I don't think anyone can claim one calendar is better than the other as far as test scores." - Interesting point - Interesting how scores continue to go up, with dramatically reduced budgets and much larger class sizes; who would ever think that would happen "And it's not all because of the new policy...that policy could have never led to that amount of days." - you don't know that In any event, glad that the board did not put in place the calendar that starts July 31.
Mic I October 26, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Mit, Yes we are very lucky to have such wonderful, dedicated teachers that work very hard to make sure that our test scores increase. Too bad our board continues to stab them in the back by taking away their pay and not listening to the majority of them. On the other note, if I don't know that the policy could have led to that many days, then I can say the same thing for your statement, how do you KNOW that "teacher absences decreased - as would be expected - because of new policy that warned teachers that absences would be considered in criteria to layoff teachers (with or without balanced calendar)."? I'm just using common sense....15,000? Really? I'm sure it's not a coincidence that they could schedule appointments throughout the year instead of squeezing them into a 9-10 week period (they don't have the full 11-12 weeks because of planning, etc).
Mit October 26, 2012 at 08:13 PM
how " do you KNOW that "teacher absences decreased - as would be expected - because of new policy " - - I'm just using common sense; Admin: Teachers, if your absences stand out - you may be cut. Teachers: Oh, I better not be absent as much. You were the one that put forth the incorrect suggestion that all 15,000 days were due to the Aug. 1 start date calendar - not me. I just brought you back to reality.
sw1 October 26, 2012 at 09:39 PM
It's called hiring a babysitter!

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