Cobb School Calendar Issue Resumes

Proposals by Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and board member David Banks will be discussed at Wednesday's work session.

Multiple school calendar proposals will be brought before the Cobb Board of Education on Wednesday, restarting a debate that embroiled the board for much of 2011.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who urged the board to create a committee to tackle calendar planning, will be offering a different calendar than conflicting recommendations by the panel.

School board member David Banks, a central figure in the school calendar controversy when it first came up in early 2011, also will be submitting his own proposal.

The discussion will take place at the board's monthly work session, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the board room of the Cobb County School District central office, 514 Glover Street, Marietta.

The entire agenda is available in the attached PDF format.

Hinojosa is suggesting that the 2013-14 school year begin on Aug. 7, and is proposing that only the next school year be approved now.

As he told The Marietta Daily Journal, he wants to take the calendar approval process out of the election cycle: "The next time we would then do a two-year calendar."

Cobb school board chairman Scott Sweeney expressed similar thoughts at his town hall meeting Monday night.

"It's very important for this district to the calendar off the election cycle," he said. "We need to adopt them in non-election years."

Hinojosa's proposal (see attached PDF) would include the following breaks:

  • Thanksgiving from Nov. 25-29;
  • Christmas and New Year's from Dec. 23-Jan. 7, 2014;
  • Spring break period from March 31-April 7, 2014;
  • Other student breaks would be scheduled on Nov. 5 and Jan. 6, 2014;
  • District-wide holidays would be slated for Sept. 2 (Labor Day), Oct. 7 (Columbus Day); Jan. 20 (Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday); Feb. 17 (President's Day); and May 26 (Memorial Day).

The last day of school would be held on Wednesday, May 21, 2014.

The calendar committee is divided on start dates of Aug. 1 and Aug. 6. Hinojosa's proposal is being offered as a compromise between the two.

But Banks, who strongly protested the board's vote in 2010 to adopt a "traditional" calendar over a "balanced" calendar with more breaks, denounced Hinojosa's proposal.

"To disregard in their totality any recommendations of this [calendar] committee does not speak well of either their efforts, the public or business input during their deliberations or future committees the Board of Education may wish to convene," Banks wrote in his e-mail newsletter released Monday.

His calendar for 2013-14 (see attached PDF) would include more extended breaks for students, teachers and staff. Banks' proposal includes the following:

  • A starting date of Aug. 5, with the last day of school scheduled for May 30, 2014;
  • Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holiday breaks from Nov. 25-29 and from Dec. 23-Jan. 6;
  • "Interval" breaks from Sept. 16-20; Feb. 17-21; March 31-April 4 (Spring Break);
  • The same official single-day holidays as Hinojosa's proposal.

Banks said he is continuing to push for additional break periods based on feedback he has received from parents, teachers and school staff.

Also on the board's agenda Wednesday are the following items:

  • A presentation of the district's legislative priorities by Hinojosa;
  • Continuing discussions about the SPLOST IV project list;
  • The system's upcoming academic strategic plan targets;
  • A proposal to spend $15,000 to hire a polling company to elicit feedback pertaining to Hinojosa's performance evaluation.
Shelly Griffith Carey October 10, 2012 at 11:37 AM
t possible to coordinate calendars -or at least long breaks-with neighboring counties? My husband works for Fulton Co schools. My daughter attends in Cobb Co. This coming spring break, their week off differs by one week. Not only can we not take a family vacation, we will need to determine childcare for the week Cobb is off but Fulton isn't. I can't imagine we are the only Cobb residents with this issue?
Shelly Griffith Carey October 10, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Sorry that first part should've read "Is it not possible..."
shamus wykes October 10, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Boo hoo to you and your vacations.. The education of the children should be the only topic here. Not your vacations. Which calender would be more beneficial to the children's education. Look at the research.
Cobb Teacher October 11, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Statistically, it has been shown that the balanced calendar improves test scores. The one year that we had the balanced calendar in our district, attendance was up for students and teachers. (the county had to pay less subs ) As a teacher, I found that after the breaks, students came back refreshed and recharged for learning.
Robin Walling October 11, 2012 at 01:05 PM
I agree wholeheartedly with the Cobb Teacher!!! When students have the 'light at the end of the tunnel' with breaks throughout the year, they are far more eager to produce and pay attention while in school. Also, having taught in both scenarios, I can honestly say that the balanced calendar is by far the best route to travel!
Frank October 11, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Statistically, has it been shown that a non-balanced calendar lowers scores? No. Achievement occurs under any calendar, including this past year in Cobb. Guess you missed the Superintendent's comments that the calendar has no bearing on academic achievement. Sweeney also shared that across the state, the attendance trends are virtually the same regardless of the calendar.
Frank October 11, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Robin, You're hilarious - The operative word is "TRAVEL." BTW - beware of lights at the end of a tunnel. Frequently they are the train that's about to deliver an undesirable impact!
Sue Matsumoto October 11, 2012 at 01:17 PM
There is no significant difference between the percentage of third- and fifth-grade students meeting and exceeding standards in the mathematics content area of the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) after three years of implementation of the balanced calendar and the percentage of third- and fifth grade students meeting and exceeding standards in the mathematics, English/language arts, students meeting and exceeding standards in the reading, Social Studies, Science content area of the Georgia CRCT in a similar school. The research revealed there was no significant difference in the achievement of students who attend a balanced calendar school and students who attend a traditional calendar school because balanced calendar schools are geared more towards the at-risk or disadvantaged child rather than on the whole population. These special needs students are less likely to retain information over the summer months and are also less likely to be challenged academically when not in the academic environment. Naylor (1995) reported that year-round education has not been proven to be beneficial for students, or parents, nor to be cost-effective. Another researcher, Raspberry (1994), reviewed research on year-round elementary schools, noting that although proponents of year-round schooling emphasize cost savings, student achievement gains,and increased attendance,most studies and reports contradict these claims.utilizing a traditional calendar©2007ErnestineR.Jackson
Sue Matsumoto October 11, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Let me add from a personal standpoint that since studies have shown that there is no statistical significance between the balanced calendar and the traditional calendar the argument that it improves tests scores is invalid. The focus then becomes vacation... and is the extra time beneficial to students? As a parent of three, the breaks do not recharge the students... on the contrary the teachers load the children with assignments over the break to complete when they return. My children have also stated that the Units that usually covered over a longer period of time are rushed through in anticipation of the break. Too much material crammed into a small amount of time, and then the remainder is sent home with them to complete. Maybe the argument here should be that the teachers are more rested and call in sick less... then it becomes a monetary issues for the district not an educational one.
Sue Matsumoto October 11, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Dear Cobb Teacher you are incorrect in your assumption. Do some research on the subject. There is no statistical significance between the two calendars.
Sue Matsumoto October 11, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Robin sadly research of their test scores in all areas (CRCT) do not support your opinion. A light at the end of the tunnel for teachers... not the students.
Sue Matsumoto October 11, 2012 at 02:07 PM
A $15,000 poll is being considered to see which calendar is more popular. Let me say that the last time a poll was enacted, the students were encouraged by their teachers to participate in the poll... My son told me some students voted again and again and their parents didn't even participate. I say save the money, keep the traditional calendar in place and move on to bigger budgetary issues. If the budget issues aren't resolved teachers will get more time off than they bargained for and this whole argument is a moot point.
Fed Up October 14, 2012 at 03:23 PM
I am getting sick of all of the back and forth. Personally, we liked the balanced calendar with the shorter summer and the more frequent breaks. We have elementary school students and this calendar benefited us, because as a working mom I was able to juggle my schedule to accommodate different breaks and spend MORE time with my children, rather than having an enormous block of time in the summer where I had to pay $300/week per child to put them in camps. Plus, academically we thought it was better for the kids to have different breaks from their very intense schedule - not just school, but extracurricular activities as well. However, I can see that a shorter summer does not work as well for high school, because they have a difficult time getting jobs that last 8 weeks, and for school activities that would start in July. I am tired of the promises broken by the school board. It said that it would have a balanced calendar for 3 years, then after 1 year that was changed at the 9th hour. Many families had made plans around that calendar, and had nonrefundable deposits and missed school anyway because of the plans the school board put in place that it later changed. Then, the school board said that it would create a committee - well, it is now clearly not adopting the committee recommendations. Now, it is telling us that we will only have a ONE year calendar and we'll have to do this again next year. We don't need a new calendar - we need a new BOARD!!!
lisa56 September 09, 2013 at 11:59 PM
Did anyone notice that the Superintendent wants to spend $15,000 to determine how he's doing on the job? Seriously? This is an excellent example of how poorly the upper echelon of the district understands how to properly spend the tax dollars received from Cobb County citizens. $15,000 comes very close to paying a paraprofessional for a full school year. I'll be more than happy to share my feelings about how he's doing for free!!!!


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