Parents deserve voice in school calendar debate

Published 6:01 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The debate over the calendar for the upcoming school year prompted heated opinions from parents throughout the community. And at Monday’s meeting of the Troy City Schools Board of Education, board members shared the feedback they’ve received from parents, scores of whom had voiced their displeasure with plans to eliminate the traditional fall break from the 2011-2012 schedule.

But even though parents sounded off, in meetings and to their school board representatives, the calendar was passed with a later start date (Aug. 15) and the elimination of fall break, a tradition for more than 12 years in the city schools.

Many parents are understandably upset. The decision, which follows the calendar approved earlier this month by the Pike County Schools due to the need to share teachers and resources in the vo-tech programs, throws a wrench into many families’ plans. The traditional fall break week is a popular travel time for families, and many make their plans more than a year out. The decision to eliminate the break suddenly caught many parents unaware, and that added to the level of frustration.

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Ultimately, the calendar should be a local decision, not one mandated by the state superintendent of education or by legislators. And while we all have the feeling that both the Pike County and Troy school boards acquiesced to pressure from the state officials to change the start date, we have one year to address that pressure and to address the concerns and requests of our local community.

Moving forward, the school board would be well served to include parents – not just teachers who have students in the system, but parents with no connection to the classroom – on the advisory committee that reviews and sets the school calendar. Having two or three parent representatives would give the parents a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion. And while the outcome may not change, at least the parents would be involved. The move would go a long way toward building community and partnership, a critical component of a successful school system.

Unfortunately, the calendar is set for the upcoming school year. But we have plenty of time to address concerns – both with process and the results – prior to next year. We urge the school boards to heed what they’ve heard from the community.