NEWARK – School system officials again approved a calendar with a post-Labor Day start date for the coming school year.
On Tuesday, the Worcester County Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a 2016-2017 calendar that features a first day of school on Sept. 6 and a final day of school on June 16.
The chosen calendar proposal was the same one favored by the majority of those who participated in the school system’s annual calendar survey.
“Results from the survey indicate a clear majority of respondents prefer the post-Labor Day mediators’ calendar,” said Carrie Sterrs, the school system’s coordinator of public relations and special programs.
As in years past, a committee of teachers, administrators, parents and students developed three calendar options for the school community to consider. The 27-member committee was broken into three subcommittees, each of which was tasked with creating a different type of calendar. One group developed a moderate calendar that would start school before Labor Day, while another, the “post-Labor-Day mediators” group, came up with a plan that would include moderate holidays and a start date after Labor Day.
“The mediators sought to strike a balance,” Sterrs said.
The final group, known as the “surfers,” created a calendar that would start school after the September holiday but would end as early as possible in June.
“The ‘surfers’ sought to create a calendar with minimal breaks through the school year with the purpose of having an early last day of school,” Sterrs said.
Between December and January, the school system collected public input regarding the three calendar proposals with an online survey. Though there was a drop in responses compared to last year, Sterrs pointed out this was the first time the survey had been done entirely online.
“The survey received 1,404 responses, which represents a 15.2 percent decline in participation from 2015, which can be explained by the shift from a paper-pencil format to an online format,” she said.
In all, 732 respondents — more than 52 percent — voted for the “post-Labor Day mediators’” calendar. The proposal with the pre-Labor Day start was favored by 289 respondents while the third proposal was selected by 383 respondents.
Sterrs said more than 200 written responses were received during the course of the survey. The majority of those (65) asked the school system to continue starting school after Labor Day. Others (44) requested an extended winter break. Some responses (36) asked the school system to revert to a pre-Labor Day school start.
Sterrs said survey participants were asked to identify themselves as either a parent, student, bus contractor, employee or community member. The bulk of those who took the survey were parents (44 percent) and employees (44 percent). Just 1 percent of respondents were bus contractors while 4 percent were students and 7 percent were community members.
Surveys were completed by individuals associated with each of the county’s schools, results showed, although the majority — slightly less than 20 percent — were from Stephen Decatur High School.
Highlights of the selected calendar include a start date of Sept. 6, a winter break from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2, a spring break from April 14-17 and a last day of school on June 16.
Earlier this month, Senator Jim Mathias introduced Senate Bill 767 that would make it a legislative mandate that all school systems start school after Labor Day. A similar bill didn’t make it out of committee last year.
The bill will be heard in the senate on March 2nd at 1pm.