A draft of the 2018-19 school calendar is now open to public comment after being presented to the Forsyth County Board of Education on Tuesday afternoon.
The calendar, which will be approved at the board’s Nov. 14 regular meeting, looks slightly different from previous years and has 179 student school days instead of the typical 180.
Deputy Superintendent of Schools Joey Pirkle said this is because of a proposed additional professional development day on Jan. 7, which would also mean students would return from their holiday break on a Tuesday.
“We’re fine with that [number] based on the number of instructional minutes that we have,” he said. “Typically, that’s that we go by and we have ample instructional minutes as far as the state Department of Education is concerned.
“Basically, everything else is the same as we have had in past years; we do start school on a Thursday, which has been a very popular thing for principals and staff and a lot of parents. Of course, we always get feedback about wanting to start later [in August] but this calendar has fall break and all the other holidays are the same.”
The current proposed school start date is Aug. 2 and the last day is proposed to be May 24. This year, Forsyth County Schools started on Aug. 3 and will end on May 25.
FCS Superintendent Jeff Bearden said the additional professional day came out of requests by staff and teachers to have a full professional day, rather than several half-days throughout the year, as has been the case for several years.
“We’ve heard a great deal from our teachers that they need more [full days] and we hear that from our principals as well,” he said. “Half days are not popular at all with our community – it creates a lot of logistical hardships and we understand that.
“We’ve also found that over the years, we’re more productive if we have a full day of professional development than a half day because in the life of a teacher, you’re working all morning and your mind’s focused there and to make that transition into professional development is really challenging.”
Bearden added the proposed Jan. 7 day was discussed a fair amount because “we know the vast majority of our county is back to work and we know we’ll probably get some feedback about that.”
“The reason we did propose Jan. 7 and wanted to put it out there is again to address the need of sustained professional development,” he said. “Now we’re going to have two days, if this passes: all day on [Friday] the fourth and all day on the seventh.
“We can get a lot accomplished and be very much focused at that time on our teachers and we feel that is a very efficient use of time.”
To view the draft or provide feedback, which will be accepted through Oct. 27, visit forsyth.k12.ga.us.