State could delay school start in Vincent

While the latest fears have abated over the possible death of a year-round school calendar in Vincent, Vincent Elementary Principal Patricia Corbett and Vincent High School Principal Gary Minnick still intend to appeal a possible delay to the start of their school year.

The state Board of Education is expected to vote this Thursday in Montgomery on a proposal that the start of the school year be pushed back until Aug. 9 statewide. Vincent schools, which operate on a year-round schedule, normally begin school in July.

Superintendent Evan Major said a proposal by the state to delay the start of school has nothing to do with cost-cutting efforts or recommendations. Instead, he said, it is being proposed in conjunction with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Major said if approved, the proposal would apply to every school system in the state and would not allow any system to begin its year before Aug. 9.

Major said the expected action by the state board is intended to allow time for testing of students in conjunction with provisions of the act.

He explained that by law, if a school fails to meet federal standards, the school system is required to notify the parents of students who attend that school before the start of the new year. This, he said, is intended to give those parents a chance to transfer their child to another school.

Major said Shelby County has no failing schools. But he said if approved by the state, the new start date rule would be effective in 2004.

Major said he learned of the proposal earlier this year and brought the information back to school principals.

He said principals are presently working on their suggested school calendars which the Shelby County Board of Education

will approve sometime after Christmas.

As to the possibility of eliminating year-round school in Vincent, Major said the action by the state only addresses school year start dates, not endings.

But he said one change that has already affected Vincent this year is that Vincent Schools no longer get a waiver from the state to test students at a different time from other school systems. He said this year Vincent will test along with the rest of the state.

Corbett said of initial reaction to the state proposal, &uot;The community was upset. We thought this was going to be the death knell of year-round school.&uot;

Corbett said a committee of parents and teachers is currently working on a school calendar.

She said that calendar could be for a nine week on two week off schedule, which she felt could work, or a nine week on three-week off schedule, which she said would be difficult.

But Corbett she and Minnick will travel to Montgomery Thursday to appeal the Aug. 9 start date to see if testing could be done earlier so Vincent schools could start their year before Aug. 9