LaGrange, GA – Students of Troup County School System will be attending school fewer but longer days in the upcoming year. At a called meeting Monday, the Board of Education approved a shortened calendar, which will reduce the number of school days from the traditional 180 to 165 days while still exceeding the instructional minutes required by the state.
Consideration of a revised calendar came about in response to continued reductions by the state in educational funding. "Even with an estimated six days of leave without pay in the FY11 budget, the system still faces an expected shortfall of $3.4 million next year," said Chief Financial Officer Don Miller. According to budget estimates, the system will save $588,260 by implementing the shortened calendar.
Savings will be achieved through transportation, utilities, and food service labor and benefits.
In order to comply with state regulations and accreditation standards for instructional time, the school day will be lengthened. Elementary students will attend school an extra 45 minutes, and high school students will attend an extra 25 minutes. Middle school students, who already had the longest day mainly due to transportation logistics, will see their day extended by only 20 minutes. With the extended day, high school instruction will decrease less than one day over the course of the year, and middle school instruction will decrease just over five days. Elementary students will actually gain seven and a half days of instructional time.
In previous presentations to the Board, Superintendent of Schools Dr.
Edwin Smith explained that, while the idea of a shortened calendar emerged from economic pressures, the result provides a solution that may yield other benefits.
Smith explained that the additional instruction time each day will provide more flexibility in scheduling, which can be used for targeted instruction for either remediation or enrichment as needed with groups or individual students. In addition, the new calendar allows for five more days of professional learning achieved by utilizing the hour equivalent to the 190 day teacher contract. Teachers use these days for planning, data analysis, and professional development. Having professional learning days in the calendar limits the need to schedule these events during school days, thus reducing teacher-time out of classrooms and the additional costs associated with substitute teachers.
In the event that state revenue reductions require days of leave without pay for staff members next year, up to six days have been identified in the new calendar for this purpose. All identified days come from professional learning days so as not to reduce student instructional time.