Coweta schools first day is Aug. 9

The Coweta County Board of Education has approved changes to the 2010-11 school system calendar and has established Monday, August 9 as the first day of school for the upcoming school year.

School system Public Information Officer Dean Jackson said the Board made that and other minor calendar changes in a called meeting on Friday. The new calendar maintains the 180-day school year for students, and allows the school system to offer 187-day contracts for certified teachers for the upcoming school year, Jackson said.

The new calendar – posted online at www.cowetaschools.org – makes several changes that will allow the school board to prepare a budget for the new school year. Those changes include:

-Setting Monday, August 9, 2010 as the first day of school. The new calendar sets Thursday, Aug. 5 and Friday, Aug. 6 as teacher workdays. The school system’s School Visitation Day will be held Friday, Aug. 6, with middle schools open to students and parents from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and elementary schools open from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. that day.

-Moving the long-weekend fall break to the Columbus Day weekend (Monday and Tuesday, October 11-12) and setting both days as student and employee holidays.

-Extending the end of the fall semester to Tuesday, December 22 (instead of Friday, December 17) before letting out for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

-Shifting a teacher workday from Monday, January 3 to Friday, June 3.  Monday, January 3 will be a holiday for students and employees.

The first day of school for the 2nd semester remains the same at January 5, 2011, and the last day of school remains the same at Friday, May 27, 2011.

The changes to the 2010-11 calendar will not affect the 180-day school year for Coweta County students, but it will allow the school system to offer teachers a 187-day contract for the new school year, providing for 7 teacher workdays.

Superintendent Blake Bass noted that the state Board of Education approved a change to state rules on Thursday that allows school systems to temporarily deviate from the 190-day work-year for certified teachers, giving school systems greater budget flexibility during the current recession.

Jackson said the Coweta school board’s change to the calendar will allow the Superintendent to begin work on a budget that will offer a 187-day contract for certified teachers and other 190-day employees and three fewer days for all other employees who work more than 190 days. Teaching assistants, bus drivers and cafeteria workers would not be affected because they work only on the 180 days that students are in session during the year.

Such a budget, based on preliminary state budget figures received last week, would mean that certified employees would also see no difference in their annual pay next year, and step raises would be passed on to eligible certified employees based on experience.

The 2010-11 budget must be approved before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30.

The effects of the significant decreases in revenue at the local and state levels due to the longstanding recession have been felt in the Coweta County School System, but not to the extent of many of its neighbors in metro Atlanta.

The Coweta School Board’s practice of maintaining significant financial reserves has helped it weather the recession and has minimized the need for some of the draconian measures enacted in recent months by other school boards across the metro area.

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