School Calendar Change Looming

Published 2:51 pm Tuesday, July 8, 2014

BUCKINGHAM — Where a school-aged child’s summer break is usually about two-and-a-half months long, students in Buckingham will get about one month less of break following the conclusion of the 2014-15 school year next summer.

And teachers, on the other hand, will get just over one month of summer.

The one-time short summer respite comes in the wake of the Buckingham County School Board voting unanimously in May to begin the 2015-2016 school year on August 5, contrary to the traditional late August start, which parents, teachers and students will see in more than a month.

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According to the 2015-16 school year calendar, the school year will end on May 20.

Another major change in the 2015-16 calendar includes the first semester and first nine weeks concluding and exams being administered prior to winter break. The traditional calendars had exams and the first semester ending in mid-January, following students’ return from their winter reprieve.

Spring break, for the following school year, is scheduled for the week of March 14, 2016. The coming year’s spring break will be in April, following tradition.

Teacher’s last day for the 2014-15 school year is slated for June 17. They’ll report to their respective schools for the 2015-2016 school year just over one month later, on July 27.

During their March meeting, the board unanimously agreed to give Division Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead and his staff direction to pursue a school calendar with the first semester ending in December, before winter break.

“I’ve had some parents and some teachers comment, and, we’ve seen this happen in Cumberland. Cumberland kind of did the same thing…” stated District Five Representative Sherry Ragland, initiating discussion on the matter at the March meeting.

The change didn’t come without opposition from some parents, though.

During the board’s June 11 meeting, New Canton resident and parent Brandy Amos questioned the amount of parental input in considering the change.

“The school board approved the school calendar at the last meeting. But, there were calls placed to the school board that day that stated the calendar wouldn’t be approved. Where was the parental input? A committee with several parents is not enough. Please tell me why the calendar has to be changed so drastically and why the calendar we have used for the last 10 years isn’t sufficient.”

Lyla Wood, a Howardsville resident, expressed her displeasure with the move.

“Why is it that when parents were flooding the…office with calls, we were assured that the calendar was not changing? We were blatantly lied to. We were told no one was available to speak to us…”

The parent of three school-aged children, who’s known for her opposition to SOL testing, called the action “shady business” and “unacceptable.”

“I understand that the high school teachers want this so their students are tested before winter break. (It is) amazing how so much unwanted change comes because of tests. However, did any of you representatives take into consideration the effects on the children and parents?”

She noted that the breaks will no longer align with parents who take their children to summer camps, and questioned, “Why was this not presented to each and every parent or guardian of the school…? I find this irresponsible and a poor decision…”

“I think it’s a great calendar,” Ragland surmised at the May 14 meeting. “Ya’ll did a great job. It gives a lot of people a heads-up for the next year, as far as planning vacations.”

“Parents…they know, from now on, that’s the way it’s going to be. No changes…It’s going to help the children also,” District Six Representative Thomas “Hut” Hutcherson related.

“Unless it snows,” quipped District Seven Representative Theresa Bryant.

All teachers were provided input on the calendar change, according to Director of Human Resources Brian Agee Green, responding to an inquiry from District Three Representative and Board Chairman Ed Wise.

“(It’s) a great idea…I really think it’s going to make an impact on the high school kids…” Ragland reiterated.

After applauding the work of the calendar committee and his staff on the calendar, Snead related to the board, “We…still have to apply for the waiver based upon snow days…We’re good up to 2018, 2019…I’m hoping legislation will see different.”

“I really think we could help test scores…You’d have continuity,” Wise noted in March.

“You’re going to catch some crow the first year…” Ragland offered.

The 2014-15 and 2015-16 school calendars can be viewed on the school divison’s website, at, and selecting “calendar” at the top of the page.