County schools delay start

Published 9:17 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pike County schools will start a week later in the 2011-2012 year, in an effort to conform to the state superintendent's request for a later start date.

Pike County schools will be starting a week later than usual during the 2011-2012 school year.

The school board on Monday approved an Aug. 15 start date as part of the 2011-2012 school year calendar.

Dr. Mark Bazzell, superintendent for Pike County schools, said the usual start date is within the second week of August and the change was in response to a request from state officials.

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“We did that at the request of the state superintendent,” Bazzell said. “He has asked all superintendents state-wide not to start any earlier than Aug. 15.”

Bazzell said the idea behind the later start date came from the state Legislature, which originally petitioned the start date be pushed back toward the end of August.

“There has been a push in the Alabama Legislature, over the last five years, for the state to set a mandatory start date, which would be more toward the end of August and require us to finish before Memorial Day,” Bazzell said. “This squeezes the calendar and I don’t know if that’s good for instruction.”

Bazzell said he thinks the start date suggested by state superintendent Dr. Joe Morton was more of a compromise with those in the Legislature who advocate a later start date.

Bazzell said the motivation behind the later start date comes from the tourism industry, which he said believes that later vacation days mean more revenue from Alabamians who may visit some of the state’s vacation “hot spots.”

“I understand the position of the people wanting to have a later start date,” Bazzell said. “But, I really think those kinds of decisions should be local decisions. Every community is different.”

Bazzell said every community has its own special events that go on throughout the year and school systems adjust their schedules accordingly, and, because of that, school calendar decisions should be made at the local level and not at the state level.

“It has significant impact on the school calendar and there is no way a ‘one size fits all’ calendar can be the right thing to do in my opinion,” Bazzell said.

Other approved items from the agenda during Monday night’s school board meeting included: the Seamless Summer Feeding Program at Pike County Elementary School from June 6 – July 1, and July 11 – 29; a request by Willie Wright to match funds in the amount of $14,230 to provide HVAC for the gym at Pike County Elementary School; and the approval for the employment of Rodney Dollar as the head football coach and athletic director at Pike County High School.