Central office modifies school calendar, adds more professional learning


Fayette County Board of Education

The 2017-18 calendar was modified with an extra day added onto the pre-planning week before school starts and four half days were built in. These day are for pre-planning and professional learning for the school improvement plan.

Ashton Long, Staff Writer

The Fayette County Board of Education approves each year’s school calendar months in advance. However, earlier this spring, the Board voted to modify the already approved calendar for the 2017-18 school year.  

The calendar will now include an added day to the pre-planning week for teachers and four half days scattered throughout the school year.  

“I try to set the stage and cooperate as much feedback and input from staff as I could,” Superintendent Dr. Joseph C. Barrow said. “And then we presented two options: leave the calendar the way it is or modify it with half days.”

The date of the half days include:

  • Sept. 20, 2017
  • Oct. 19, 2017
  • Jan. 31, 2018
  • March 14, 2018

The modified calendar aims to build more professional learning opportunities for teachers and align with each school’s improvement plan. Assistant Superintendent of Student Achievement Dr. Terry Oatts originally proposed the school’s improvement plan.

These four Wednesdays may include schools working together, preventing teachers from being out of their classroom all day long, while avoiding any time being lost to teachers’ instructional time. With the half days, an additional day was added onto the school calendar.

The modified school calendar decision came after a majority vote from teachers with 452 voting for the modifications and 450 voting to keep the calendar as previously adopted by the Fayette County Board of Education.

One key complaint from teachers is the addition of a district-wide staff development day on July 28, the Friday before the traditional week of pre-planning would begin.

[The new schedule] is going to give us the opportunity to get a little creative with our schedules and…maximize the academic learning time for all of our students.

— Principal Allen Leonard

For high school teachers, the extra day may come as a problem. “I think that extra day is meant for spending the day at home with our kids so when we go back to school we are prepared to deal with the incredible stress that comes from being a teacher,” history department chair and AP U.S. History teacher Susan King said.

Concerns have also been raised regarding childcare on the half days. The vital problem is parents who usually cannot pick up their child will have to find someone to take care of their child until they can pick them up from school.

“I have had concerns regarding childcare issues,” Barrow said. “That is an issue where I would hope parents have enough lead-time since [the calendar] has been announced, whenever the final decision was made.”

At beginning of the 2017-18 school year, letters will be sent regarding the extra day. The central office is still working out issues to help students who cannot leave school and make sure parents are aware of these half days.

“The good news of this situations is that we have dates planned months in advance,” Leonard said. “That is going to give us the opportunity to get a little creative with our schedules and try to, based on consensual on our faculty and of the administration, make sure [to] maximize the academic learning time for all of our students.”

Since the calendar has been released, adjustments are still being made regarding childcare including the unknown bell-schedule for the 2017-18 calendar. The schedules may be shortened and improvements will allow for teachers to see all their students on the half days.

“It is a delicate balancing act and there is no perfect school calendar,” Leonard said.

For a link to 2017-18 calendar click here.