Fall break support strong from teachers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 13, 2004

When the Shelby County Board of Education meets at 4 p.m. Thursday, one item with strong support from teachers will be a 2004-05 school calendar that includes a fall break.

In addition to the traditional spring break, March 21-26, the proposed calendar includes a fall break, Oct. 11-15.

Connie Myers, president of the Shelby County Education Association with a membership of about 1,350, said she recently conducted a poll to which 30 schools in the Shelby County School System


She said support for the fall break was &uot;overwhelming&uot; from administrators, principals, guidance counselors, teachers and support personnel.

School Board member Peg Hill said a fall break or has been a subject of discussion for about three years. She

pointed out that there is now a stretch of

15 weeks from the start of school to Thanksgiving without a break.

Hill said kids need a break. And she said of the proposed fall break, &uot;I predict it will prove itself in a year.&uot;

Hill noted that more and more parents are taking vacations during the school year. She said the fall break will give them an opportunity to take vacations when rates are cheaper.

She said, &uot;I am elated the superintendent is going to present a fall break to be voted on by the board.&uot;

And she said, &uot;I believe it is going to pass, and we will have a lot of happy parents and students and teachers and principals.&uot;

She stressed that the change in the school calendar does not mean more time off from school. Instead she said, &uot;It’s just a different time.&uot;


describes her group as the predominant majority professional association for teachers. She said about 68 school systems in the state have already gone to a four week fall break with a four week break in the spring.

She also said the new calendar does not mean schools will start or let any earlier. She said there will be a difference in which weather days are adjusted.

But Myers said, &uot;We fell that the end of September school students get real ancy and need a break… middle to end of October.&uot;

She noted that in Vincent, &uot;discipline referrals were way down when children got a break.&uot;

When asked for an opinion, Myers said, &uot;A break would be beneficial to both staff and students. When you get down to it, the best resource we have available is a teacher who in enthusiastic… refreshed and teaching kids who are not bouncing off the walls.&uot;

Tim Parker, a Thompson High School

teacher agrees.

&uot;After nine weeks, the students become restless and need a break and without the fall break they go 15 weeks without one,&uot; Parker said.

&uot;Back when schools began the first of September, a fall break was not necessary; but now school starts the first of August. We’ve been backing up and backing up and backing up and not putting any breaks in there. All the breaks still come after Thanksgiving.&uot;

Parker said of the fall break on the agenda for Thursday, &uot;It’s a very important issue for teachers; because just like the students, teachers need a break, too. I certainly hope that the school board is going to approve the calendar as it is recommended by the superintendent.&uot;

An on-line survey on the Shelby County Schools’ website also reflects strong support for the fall break. But this survey

shows support from parents and students, as well as teachers.

According to Cindy Warner, community education/public relations supervisor for the school system, 1,651 people responded to the on-line survey.

Of those responding, she said, 1,305 (79 percent) were in favor and 346 (21 percent) were opposed.

Warner also broke the totals down by categories of parents, school system employees, students and others.

She said of 744 parents responding, 550 (74 percent) were in favor and 194 (26 percent) were opposed. Of 641 employees responding, she said, 541 (84 percent)were in favor with 110 (16 percent) opposed.

She said 130 students responded to the survey of which 114 (88 percent) were in favor and 16 (12) percent were opposed.

Others accounted for 100 in favor and 26 opposed.

Warner said negative responses centered on working parents concerns about day care. She pointed out, however, that the school system’s community education program will provide day care during the fall break week as it does for other school breaks. There is a fee for the day care, she said.

Hill said about 50 percent of the school systems in the state already have a fall break.

Other holidays included in the proposed Shelby County calendar are: Labor Day, Sept. 6; Veterans Day, Nov. 11; Thanksgiving Nov. 24-26; Winter Holidays, Dec. 20-Jan. 3.

School will begin on Aug. 12 (full day for students)