NEW: Huntsville City Schools Release New School Calendar Proposal

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) —  School officials presented the  final draft of the 2014- 2015 school calendar Thursday evening during a district work session.

Officials say if the calendar is approved by the school board in two weeks students will again have a fall break. Under the new changes summer break will be shortened to eight weeks and Thanksgiving break will be an entire week.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW Proposed 2014- 2015 Calendar

The changes come on the heels of a recently passed state law that prevents Alabama school systems from starting any earlier than two weeks before Labor Day, or ending past Memorial Day.

Proponents of the mandate argued the longer summer would lead to added tax revenue from increased tourism during the traditional summer vacation month of August. In recent years several Alabama school districts had steadily pushed back their start date to the beginning of August, roughly a month earlier than many other parts of the country. But critics of the law say the local custom of early start dates and fall break should return when the two-year-old law expires at the end of this school year.

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“I’m of the mindset that these types of decisions should be made locally,” said Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison), who voted against the law when it was passed in 2012. “The silver lining in it is that it [calendar law] sunsets, this is the year it sunsets, it goes away…that of course is going to give us back the fall break, going to give us perhaps a longer Christmas than what we’re going to have this school year, but again, the important thing is it gives back control to the local school boards.”

Sen. Holtzclaw said promises of increased revenue from a longer summer break fell flat. He said he had not heard of any effort to extend the law past it’s expiration date next spring.

“Quite frankly those numbers have yet to come to fruition, and some of my colleagues who supported the bill originally have since changed their position on it because of the lack of revenue.”

Huntsville City Schools officials will meet in February with Madison City and County school officials to work on new calendars for the next two years.

Madison City School Superintendent Dee Fowler said he’s optimistic Madison’s school board will reinstate fall break, assuming the state mandate is not extended. Fowler said most parents he’s talked to prefer the earlier August start date, which made fall break possible. Starting later forced school systems to axe fall break due to the calendar law’s numerical requirement on instruction days.

“I think the biggest challenge that we’ve had is that there have been no breaks,” said Fowler. “Historically, we like to work for nine weeks, take a break. Work for nine weeks, take a break…We’re very excited to have autonomy, to have control of our own calendar again.”

The school calendar law was primarily pushed by tourism officials from the Gulf Coast. A compromise proposal from Sen. Holtzclaw that would have made the law permanent but allow individual school systems to opt out fell apart earlier this year.

4 comments

  • Talia Macintire

    The idea of a making calendars two years in advance came from Madison County Schools, not Huntsville City or Madison City. Superintendent Dr. David Copeland came up with this idea. Unfortunately, he will stand in the background and let the goons from Huntsville City and Madison City take the credit.

  • Geraldine Clay

    That information has already been shared with the media as has the approved calendar for 2014-2015. The idea and the calendars were shared with the media last year but for some reason Madison County was not recognized for it as is the usual case.

  • Sue

    If the issue is about what the parents want, why not survey the parents.I vote for the long summer. It is too hard on working parents to find child care for these breaks. I know teachers probably like these breaks but not working parents. Fowler’s statement that most parents he’s talked to prefer the earlier August start date is meaningless. How many parents did he talk to, 2 parents, 20 parents. 100 parents? Do a legitimate poll of all the parents and then decide!

  • Donna

    I remember when school did not start until after Labor day. There is no need to have a Fall Break, take out the days the children get out of school for Presidents day, Martin Luther King day, etc,. Keep the children in school to learn about the reasons of these days. There also seem to be a lot of teacher work days, when did they stop being able to get ready for the school year? When younger we never had so much time out of school except for the Holidays and maybe spring break. Do like the extra two days around Thanksgiving for that is like Christmas when families travel and get together.

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