Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

School Board Advertises Revised Calendar after Protests

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

School Board Advertises Revised Calendar after Protests

Article excerpt


After parents protested against a proposed calendar that would have seen school start a week earlier, the Sarasota County School Board voted to advertise a new draft calendar setting an Aug. 22 start date in 2016.

School would end for summer break on June 6, 2017, but there is no proposed calendar for the 2017-18 school year.

The calendars initially created by the school district's calendar committee -- made up of district staff, teachers, parents and others -- called for schools to start Aug. 15, 2016, and end before Memorial Day the next May.

Hundreds of parents emailed the district saying the earlier start would ruin family vacation time and would send students back to school during the hottest weeks of the year. Others complained the winter break, which would have begun Dec. 23 for students and Dec. 24 for teachers, began too close to Christmas.

More than 80 people attended a School Board meeting this month, with more than two dozen asking for a new calendar.

The feedback prompted board discussion on making sure parent concerns were heard when the next calendar is up for approval. Board member Shirley Brown suggested a public forum, similar to those held when the district explored rebuilding Booker and Venice High schools.

"There were questions brought up in the discussion I would have liked answers to," Brown said of the meeting earlier this month. "Those comments were one way; there was no feedback on those comments."

Board member Bridget Ziegler said the district's use of automatic calls to update parents about the calendar was critical to getting feedback.

"I'm happy that we had the number of parents come out and speak against it, but the feedback we got was that so many parents didn't hear about the change," Ziegler said. "The robo-call really helped, that's when we got a flood of input."

Superintendent Lori White said the next time the committee proposed a new calendar, it would be asked to include a list of reasons explaining the decision. …

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