Originally created 11/27/02

School board votes for calendar changes



Columbia County School Board members got their first look at zoning proposals for a new elementary school and took a second look at the 2003-04 school calendar that has been the source of some controversy.

Board members ultimately approved the calendar by a vote of 4-1, but not before hearing strong opposition from trustee Lee Muns and a group of parents who attended Tuesday night's meeting to oppose the calendar, which adds five holidays to the year.

The new calendar starts Wednesday, Aug. 6, a day sooner than this year. It includes a "fall break" in October - two days off to create a four-day weekend - and another four-day "midwinter break" to coincide with Presidents Day in February.

"Has any thought been given to how working parents will provide child care with the new vacation days added to the calendar?" said Michelle Ward, a Riverside Elementary School parent. "We are starting earlier and ending later every year. ... Why can't Columbia County find a calendar that will work and stick with it?"

Mr. Muns said the public should have had more input into the calendar, which was drafted by a committee of the system's teachers of the year.

"It should have been a community effort, a collaborative effort," Mr. Muns said. "We should have made it available to them and listened to their concerns. After all, the children are our customers, the parents are No. 2 and the teachers are our employees."

Board Chairman Wayne Bridges disagreed.

"This is a job of the superintendent and staff to come up with a school calendar, and it's our job to vote on it," Mr. Bridges said.

Also at the meeting, the board voted to transfer Bel Air Elementary Principal Mike Doolittle to be the principal of the Hereford Farm Road elementary school when it opens next year.

The board also got its first look at zoning proposals for the new school. It will help relieve overcrowding at Martinez, Brookwood, Westmont and Bel Air elementary schools, but the proposal also will affect Evans and North Columbia elementary zones.

Under the proposal that was presented, 432 pupils would be pulled out of these zones to make up the new school zone.

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113, or melhall@augustachronicle.com.

A public hearing on the zoning proposals for the Hereford Farm Road elementary school is set for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Brookwood Elementary School.