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EH eyes extending balanced calendar

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CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Eastern Hancock School Board is set to take an up-or-down vote Monday on whether the district will retain its balanced school calendar for the 2013-14 year.

EH joined the other county districts when it began using the new calendar last August. However, while other districts in the county adopted a balanced calendar for two school years, EH approved the plan only for 2012-13.

Under a balanced calendar, the year is broken into four, evenly spaced nine-week grading periods. The calendar starts school two weeks earlier in the summer and allows a two-week break in the fall; one at the holidays; and another in the spring.

Superintendent Randy Harris originally brought the issue to the board in December and recommended the measure again last month, but board members asked to continue the decision amid concerns the new calendar didn’t mesh with the EH district’s unique needs. The Indiana State Fair, for example, overlapped with the first days of school last summer, and students who participated in 4-H activities at the fair had conflicts. The school excused absences, and students made up the school work.

Some board members last month said they needed more time to consider the matter.

Though Jim Jackson said Thursday he was “encouraged” by the results of a recent repeat survey on the calendar, it was still too early to comment fully on how he might vote.

“We’ve had an additional survey done, and we’ll be examining that and a few different options and have a good discussion,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be an interesting meeting.”

Board president Scott Petry said he thinks the balanced

calendar is “heading in the right direction.”

Petry said the majority of those recently surveyed seemed to be in favor of a balanced calendar, and additionally, the district’s teachers were behind the plan.

“It’s very important to me that the teachers are refreshed and as ready to teach as the students are refreshed and ready to learn,” he said.

“It’s important to remember that our teachers are under contract for 186 days per year, and it doesn’t matter when those days fall. It’s still 186 days,” he said.

Petry also suggested it would be beneficial to give the plan at least a two-year run in order to establish a valid baseline for comparisons and analysis in the future should the district wish to revert to a standard calendar or explore other options.

A proposed draft calendar EH board members might consider puts the start of school on July 31. School would end on May 30, with a fall break occurring from Oct. 7 through 18 and spring break running from March 17 through March 28.

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