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School will return a bit earlier this summer.
The Caroline County School Board unanimously approved a revised 2014-15 calendar that begins the school year on Aug. 20 and concludes it May 19.
A state law, popularly known as the “Kings Dominion law,” requires each school division’s year to start after Labor Day, but a division may seek a waiver if its meets certain criteria.
Dr. Rebecca Broaddus, assistant superintendent, explained at the board’s April 14 meeting that Caroline is eligible for a waiver based on the number of school days missed in recent years.
The law sets forth that if inclement weather, power failures, or other emergency conditions have forced the school division to close an average of eight days per year during any five of the last 10 years, the division meets the “good cause” requirement for obtaining a waiver.
Caroline now does, thanks to the 14 days missed this year, which pushes its average to nine days missed during five of the last 10 years.
By starting Aug. 20, high school students will take their first-semester exams before winter break. Second semester would begin when they return in January.
“So you wouldn’t have that two-week break and then come back and kids are given their exams,” Shawn Kelley, the board’s Madison District representative, observed.
Board members were concerned about families who have already made late-August vacation plans this year.
“If a family has a vacation at the end of August, we would not penalize that child?” Mary Anderson, Western Caroline board member, asked.
Dr. Greg Killough, superintendent, said the children would not be penalized, though he urged parents to communicate those plans to their schools’ administrations as early as possible.
“There’s going to have to be some flexibility,” Killough said.
George Spaulding, board chairman, added that this flexibility with late-August vacations would apply only to the 2014-15 school year, not future years.
Anderson had made a motion to delay the pre-Labor Day start to 2015-16, but the motion failed. However, she said Killough’s assurances about not penalizing any children assuaged her concerns.
The revised calendar has 990 instructional hours over 169 days—which is down from 180 days in the previously approved calendar.
Due to the reduced quantity, the length of each day will increase.
The elementary school day will run from 8:45 a.m. 3:45 p.m.
Middle school will go from 7:25 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.
High school will start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m.
“It’s a good schedule. It will take a little getting used to,” Spaulding said.