Parents not all behind unified calendar

By DAISY MOON / Staff Writer

Parents of students at Vincent Middle-High School plan to caravan to the Shelby County Board of Education meeting Feb. 21 to voice their opposition to a proposed unified calendar for the school system.

Carla Burns has two sons in Vincent schools and said she has seen how a year-round calendar has benefited her children.

“My boys actually like going to school now,” Burns said.

Before coming to Vincent, Burns’ sons attended school on the traditional calendar. But she said since coming to Vincent two years ago their academic performance has greatly improved.

Vincent schools have been on the year-round calendar for almost 15 years, but a switch to the traditional school calendar may be incorporated into next year’s plan.

Shelby County Board of Education Superintendent, Randy Fuller, recently notified schools of the potential change. He said State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton recommended that no school in the state begin its next school year prior to Aug. 6, 2008.

Fuller said the proposed change presents benefits for students that a year-round plan does not offer.

“By being included in the Aug. 6 date, they can take full advantage of things like programs at the school of technology and the access program, which allows courses taught through distance learning,” Fuller said.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status, school improvement planning, summer school and new teacher orientation are several of the other advantages Fuller said a unified calendar would bring.

But parents at the Feb. 11 PTO meeting said the existing year-round calendar should remain.

VMHS PTO president Bridgette Jordan Smith said she believes the year-round plan keeps teachers from having to re-teach subjects and helps students retain information due to shorter breaks.

But most importantly, Jordan Smith said, the current plan “provides a sense of community for Vincent.”

Fuller said he understands Vincent’s partiality towards the year-round schedule, but stressed a need for consistency.

“While we understand the emotions, the feelings and the attachments there are within that community to the schedule they are used to, we feel it is necessary to follow the direction recommended to us,” Fuller said. “We will continue to do our best to support Vincent, as we do every other school in our system.”

The BOE will vote on the new unified calendar Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. at the central office in Columbiana.

Staff Writer Samantha Hurst contributed to this report