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Poll: Most want to retain EH balanced calendar

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CHARLOTTESVILLE — The results of the latest balanced-calendar survey at Eastern Hancock indicate an overwhelming majority of teachers, staff and parents in the district favor retaining the balanced calender for next year.

The poll was concluded last Wednesday and the results tallied and forwarded to board members, said Superintendent Randy Harris. The board will discuss the matter at its next meeting, which was moved from the second Monday to next Monday, March 4.

Out of 104 responses from staff, which includes all teachers and employees, 89 percent preferred the current calendar, compared to 11 percent who voted for pushing back next year’s start date by a week, Harris said.

The latest survey garnered 442 responses from parents, 61 percent of whom favored the current calendar with 39 percent opting for the second option, Harris said.

The results differed somewhat from a poll conducted earlier this year; however, Harris said sufficient variables existed between the two studies to explain the differences.

“The survey we did before asked for feelings about the calendar,” Harris said. Recipients were polled on their satisfaction level with the current calendar, not asking for a decision between two alternatives.

Further, the initial survey results were not separated between school staff and parents, Harris said.

Parents were allowed to respond for each student they have enrolled in the system, but Harris said responses were time-stamped and included personal information to protect a one-student-one-vote response.

Last month, board member Scott Johnson expressed concerns that the results of the previous survey might not be able to be verified to give an accurate picture of the district’s desires.

Johnson was also concerned the prior survey could be read to exclude any alternatives other than the current calendar.

Since January, the board has been considering whether to continue with the current balanced calendar for next year or adopt another alternative.

At last month’s meeting, the board was unable to reach a decision among the current calendar proposal; adopting a model used by New Castle Community School Corp.; or a proposal by board member Tom Younts that would start school a week later next year and eliminate one week of the current two-week fall break to compensate. Younts’ proposal became the counterpoint on the most recent survey.

Under a balanced calender, the year is broken into four evenly spaced nine-week grading periods. The calender starts school two weeks earlier in the summer and allows a two-week break in the fall with a similar break in the spring.

While other districts in the county adopted the same balanced calendar for two school years, EH approved the plan only for 2012-2013.

Monday, Johnson said he only had the opportunity to briefly look at the results but that he would be ready to discuss them at the board’s meeting.

Board president Scott Petry said he feels the numbers most likely reflect what residents in the district are thinking.

“They are what they are,” Petry said of the results. “You can’t make everyone happy; I wish that you could, but we should provide what it is the school district wants. We’ll probably have a pretty good discussion about it.”

With the latest results in and tallied, Harris said looks forward to the issue being settled.

“I’m hoping we’ll have a calendar,” he said.

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