BOE approves calendar

Published 4:09 pm Sunday, May 27, 2012

Local students will get a few extra days of summer vacation this year, but they’ll pay for it with fewer days off from school next year.

The Escambia County Board of Education approved changes to the 2012-2013 academic calendars this week after the Alabama legislature approved legislation requiring school systems to start their years no earlier than Aug. 20. The new law was sponsored by legislators who believe the later start date will boost tourism in the state by extending the summer days parents and other vacationers have to choose from.

Escambia County Superintendent Randall Little said the change in the school calendar for 2012-2013 will maintain the 180 days recommended by the Alabama superintendent of education.

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“We want to stay on the 180-day school calendar,” Little said. “The Legislature decided to have a little more control of the school calendar and we have made changes accordingly. The state superintendent and counsel for the state urged all school boards to stay on a 180-day calendar and we are following that recommendation.”

According to the newly enacted school flexibility calendar, schools must begin classes no earlier than Aug. 20, 2012, and dismiss before Memorial Day in 2013.

The motivation behind the recent calendar changes appears to be that the new legislation will bring in $22 million in tourism revenue over the next two years. Little said he has worked on the new school calendar closely in order to keep students in the area on the same schedules.

“I think this is a doable calendar and a workable calendar,” Little said. “We worked closely together on this to make sure we are all on the same page. All of our curriculum core sties are based on 180 days of instruction and we will keep that pace.”

Under the new plan students will lose President’s Day as a holiday and will also have to wait longer to break for the Christmas holiday, remaining in session until Dec. 21. During the 2013 spring semester, Good Friday and the Easter holiday will also be impacted, now coinciding with Spring break, which will take place the last week of March. Once students return, they will finish out the school year without another break. The 2013 year is scheduled to end on May 23.

Holidays not changing for the coming two school years are Martin Luther King Day and Thanksgiving holidays.