Educators, Parents Talk About New School Calendar Passage

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Many parents in north Alabama are scratching their heads and stomping their feet at lawmakers. They are doing it because of abrupt changes in the school calendar for next year. The school calendar issue is causing a headache for educators and parents.

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Some educators making their frustrations known. Parents who talked with WHNT NEWS 19 are holding back a bit by saying they'll wait to decide what they think one educators nail down a new calendar. All are left wondering which days the the school bell will ring this fall.

Susan Blades, a mother of three, is not pleased the latest move by Alabama lawmakers.

"I was surprised they actually passed it and did not amend what the governor had proposed," said Blades.

Lawmakers passed House Bill 360, known as the School Flexibility Act of 2012. The bill says Alabama public schools can start no earlier than two weeks before Labor Day and end no later than the Friday before Memorial Day.

"I feel like it is going to throw a wrench in a lot of people's plans, as well as opening a new school in Madison which is already in the works," added Blades.

The new school calendar won't affect Blades. It has already made an impact on Roslyn Jett-Mitchell's family.

"I haven't made plans yet. I was really looking forward to the fall break and cooler months for going down south, but until they make a final decision, we will hold off on those plans," said Jett-Mitchell.

The mother of two boys also wishes lawmakers had left the school calendar up to local educators, but she's prepared to deal with it.

"I think as long as the educators are happy and the teachers are okay with it, and it will not affect the teaching they are wanting to do for our students, I am totally fine with it," said Jett-Mitchell.

One parent wrote NEWS 19 to say he wants lawmakers to reimburse him for money lost of travel plans made before the calendar change. WHNT NEWS 19 showed that email to the Superintendent of Madison City Schools.

"My heart goes out to them. I would hope the calendar would have said we have to do this within a year, a year after this, or even some time later," said Dr. Fowler.

Heritage Elementary School Principal Dr. Lydia Davenport says some of her students' parents are ignoring the bill's requirements.  

"Several parents have already called and emailed me to say they have planned vacations. They are letting me know now that their kids are going to be absent from school for about a week," said Dr. Davenport.

Dr. Dee Fowler says he's not sure what the new school calendar will look like for his students.

"I think the first thing we have to do is go back as a board of education to look and see what are our core values and what do we expect to get out of a school year," said Dr. Fowler.

Dr. Fowler hopes to have a school calendar in front of the school board for approval by May 22.

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