BOE approves changes to school calendar

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Lifestyles Editor

Shelby County students will have a longer summer break after the Shelby County Board of Education approved changes to the 2012-2013 calendar during a called meeting on May 21.

The changes were prompted by a new state law, which requires schools start no earlier than two weeks before Labor Day and end before Memorial Day in an effort to extend the summer tourism season. The law, which was approved by the Alabama Legislature in May after it was vetoed by Gov. Robert Bentley, also changed the time required for each school year. While districts must provide students with 180 instructional days, the law allows the time to be measured in hours.

Prior the law, school systems were allowed to set their own calendars.

The new calendar made several changes, including

  • Moved the start date from Aug. 9 to Aug. 20,
  • Moved several professional work days from throughout the school year to the start of the 2012 fall semester,
  • Removed all weather days.

Superintendent Randy Fuller said the calendar committee sought to protect the number of instructional days when making the changes to the calendar.

“It was important that we protected the 180 full days of instruction,” he said. “If we were to add minutes to the day and reduce the number of days, we felt that would have a negative impact on instruction.”

Increasing the school day also would have required the school system to pay overtime to non-salaried employees, which the committee wanted to avoid.

Fuller said there is no plan in place at this time for potential weather days.

“We’ll have to take that up at the time and look at what’s in the best interest of the schools,” he said.

Board member Peg Hill said she thought the original calendar was better, but the calendar committee did a good job making the required changes.

“I hope one day (the Legislature) will put the decision back in our hands,” she said.