Each school year, DeKalb County School District convenes a group of stakeholders to form a committee charged with exploring calendar options. The 2018-2020 Calendar Committee included representation from the following stakeholder groups: parents, students, school-level staff, principals, district-level staff, and community members.
Who is on the calendar committee? I asked the administration 6 weeks ago who was on the calendar committee. The administration replied saying “Due to the nature of the task, Calendar Committee members have been assured anonymity from the Central Office level.” I replied to the administration saying that information was subject to Open Records Requests as dictated by state law. The administration replied to me saying they weren’t answering any more questions until after the holidays. I still haven’t heard back.
Points of Interest
The 2018-2020 school calendars contain the following features:
• Balanced Calendar – 90 instructional days each semester
• 5 identified inclement weather days each semester (10 total per year)
DeKalb Schools 2018 – 2020 Calendar
|DeKalb Schools Calendar||2018-2019||2019-2020|
|Pre-planning||Jul 30 – Aug 3, 2018||Jul 29 – Aug 2, 2019|
|First day of school||Aug 6, 2018||Aug 5, 2019|
|Labor Day||Sep 3, 2018||Sep 2, 2019|
|Fall Break (Including Columbus Day)||Oct 4 – 8, 2018||Oct 10 – 14, 2019|
|Election Day/Teacher’s Workday||Nov 6, 2018||Nov 5, 2019|
|Thanksgiving Break||Nov 19 – 23, 2018||Nov 25 – 29, 2019|
|Last day of 1st semester||Dec 21, 2018||Dec 20, 2019|
|Winter Break||Dec 24, 2018 – Jan 3, 2019||Dec 23, 2018 – Jan 2, 2020|
|Post planning 1st semester/ Pre-planning 2nd semester||Jan 4, 2019||Jan 3, 2020|
|First day of 2nd semester||Jan 7, 2019||Jan 6, 2020|
|Martin L. King Day||Jan 21, 2019||Jan 20, 2020|
|Feb Break (Including President’s Day)||Feb 15 – 18, 2019||Feb 14 – 17, 2020|
|Professional Learning Day||Mar 8, 2019||Mar 13, 2020|
|Spring Break||Apr 1 – 5, 2019||Apr 6 – 10, 2020|
|Last day of school||May 23, 2019||May 21, 2020|
|Post planning||May 24, 2019||May 22, 2020|
Wow! If the calendar committee is secret, I hate to think what kinds of things are going on with finances.
I’m disheartened they made a promise like this. Was it ignorance or intentional? That being said, they still haven’t released the information. Any Joe Public can wander off the street and ask for the information. State law says they have 3 days to respond.
Are these calendars final or proposed (PDFs state proposed).
JDT, The “proposed” calendars were approved last week.
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Spring Break, inclement weather days?!
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Interesting. And hopefully not needed!! But at least they aren’t added to end of the year, when most testing is completely done. It’s getting harder to figure out these inclement weather days. I like where Gwinnett is heading, with Cyber Days. There are things still to work out, but it allows for more flexibility if weird weather hits.
Not a fan at all here. I will keep repeating myself until the cows come home that extending the school year by a few days or even a week and or starting a little bit earlier is the way to go. Expecting teachers and parents to be ok with taking days from preplanned family time and vacations Is unacceptable. If we happen to have something planned and they take it away for inclement weather I guess my kids will be marked absent. And MLK day is not touched at all as an inclement weather day? Could that not be used as a learning day ? I have to wonder what Dr King would think about this. Most folks plan Spring Break getaways . Using SB is over the top. What about the folks using the longer breaks to tour colleges etc. The only thing I think I agree with is the slightly longer Winter Break. Aside from that, I think it needs more thought and consideration.
Thanks for your input Kate. How is family/vacation time during the school year any different than family/vacation time in the Summer? Extending the semester adds the days after scheduled testing. Starting a week earlier would put us in July. I believe starting school in July is a line we don’t want to cross.
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I hate we start so early. We could always knock off some of the days in the fall break and start later. Or minimize the Feb. days off. It is practically impossible to coordinate with any family or friends in most of the country- who have off July (end of June) and August, starting back after Labor Day. And, if people try to coordinate seeing family from another country- well, most go to school until past the middle of July.
is this approved or just proposed?
Amanda, The “proposed” calendars were approved last week.
Thank you for confirming!
Stan. When Nancy and I were on the board the calendar Committee was open and published. We even had some community members on the committee. Our meetings were also open to the public.
@ Don. I was at one of the Screen on the Green and the question was asked…. who were the members on the committee. The answer from Dr. Green was “We want our members to be able to grocery shop without fear, so we will not be giving that information out”. I guess it is a new day in DCSD.
Stan in answer to your question about family time not every family is able to enjoy summers together. Some of us can only guarantee time off work in months such as October etc. For our family at least we can’t be together much over the summer.
Didn’t Dr. Green promise more transparency when he got here?
To Judy Montgomery’s point the eSPLOST finances are completely hidden. The general operating budget is all smoke and mirrors. I have been looking at the finances for five years and nobody in administration has been, or is, willing to answer simple questions.
I have said this many times, but I don’t understand why students are getting out on May 23 for Summer. Metro Atlanta schools should go until the first week of June and not go back until mid-August. Adjust the testing calendar to test in early May. Teachers should not have to report back in July.
Furthermore, using Thanksgiving and Spring Break as inclement weather days is absurd. These are times that families and teachers plan well in advance. Dekalb will see a spike in absenteeism should those days be used and teachers will be absent as well.
Julie, I think the challenge you’re going to bump up against is having a balanced calendar. A number of schools are on the block schedule, so there was a push this year to have the same number of days in the Spring and Fall semesters.
I imagine student and employee absenteeism will be higher than normal on any inclement weather makeup day.
Gwinnett seems to be moving in the right direction (Again) while Dekalb is not. Gwinnett did away with make-up days and instead has moved to digital learning days. Why can’t Dekalb make the transition as well?
do we have school on Feb 16th Friday?
Digital/cyber make up days make sense. I would love for this to happen in Dekalb.
Seems like digital/cyber make up days would be a viable option once the Digital Dreamers initiative is rolled out.
I haven’t heard if Feb 16th will be used to make up the cancelled school day last Monday. I’ll ask.
I hope that the 16th is not chosen. Every parent does not work for the school system. Some people in my family have to request time off from their jobs in advance. Once it is granted it is hard to change.
My niece lives in Gwinnett. Her children were provided assignments for January 8, 2018.
DeKalb has enough time to put that into place. We hear that we have a great award winning computer department. We were tolt that we have an excellent new curriculum that everyone loves. Let us plan ahead. My friend’s children in Clayton County had projects and assignments for the King Day Holiday, so that the meaning of it would not be missed. I thought that was great.!!!
I appreciate all that you and Nancy do to keep us informed.
” How is family/vacation time during the school year any different than family/vacation time in the Summer?”
If days were added to the end of the year, families could plan to start vacation after those days (whether or not they are needed). Now, with possibly taking 2 days from Thanksgiving and 3 days from Spring Break, DCSD is leaving families in limbo with vacation planning during those weeks. Many plan these vacations months in advance and asking families/staff members to then pay change fees for flights, lose money on no-change hotel rooms/rental properties, is unwise. There is no reason that DCSD had to go from 1 day/year to 10 days/year. DCSD needs to stop having a “the sky is falling” attitude when addressing their shortcomings in calendar/bad weather/make-up days decision making. I foresee lots of absent kids, and possibly staff members, if these days are used.
The school administration gave you their answer. If you are not satisfied you should follow-up and get to the bottom of the issue instead of e-mailing. An effective leader would get this resolved. The posting is a bit antagonistic. I would recommend contacting your colleagues on the school board to address the issue and establish a sound and fair policy moving forward. Sounds like confusion and just needs to be cleaned up with a good policy in place. If as you state any Joe can walk off the street and obtain the information then I am especially concerned you being on the school board cannot obtain the information.
One thing I would recommend is not tossing around laws. I have seen other post in the past where you state certain laws apply etc and its not the fact.
vague and condescending … very constructive … thanks for your input.
I’ll echo the statements for Thanksgiving and Spring Break. Digital dreamers is scheduled to be completely rolled out next year. I understand not taking MLK, but why not President’s Day?
Why are we basically cutting 3 days off of employee’s Christmas vacation bringing them back in a Friday? Come on. Why not make the workday Monday bring the kids back Tuesday.
Also, regarding changing an approved calendar: it happened before…. after Atkinson tried to give us a balanced calendar, Thurmond changed it April 1 (and I remember when she tried to do it the year before after a calendar was published, Jay Cunningham said April was too late to change a calendar).
Winfield, are you new here? I will assume you are. The school district isn’t confused. They want to thwart state Open Records laws. This isn’t a new behavior for the school district. Any Joe, including any board member, is supposed to have access to information pursuant to the Open Records Law. The truth is that the school district routinely violates that law for board members and regular Joes. I recommend you get familiar with the law before making pronouncements.
Most people are not familiar with the open records law. Why not share it?
Pravda is correct. The school district doesn’t feel obligated to follow the law. I could share at least three responses to ORRs which falsely stated the documents I requested did not exist, when they did.
Other times, they will say they can not find what was requested, such as contracts or audits. It is laughable when they write checks and “can’t find” the contract, or audit, they wrote the checks for.
Their favorite way to keep things from the public is to demand ridiculous amounts of money for “photocopying” documents. Once, I was told it would cost over $200 to produce the requested information. I asked a friend to request the same information and they only asked her for $70. No explanation was ever given for the difference.
Welcome to DeKalb County Schools.
Stan et al.,
I’m less interested in the names of people serving on the calendar committee and more concerned about the type and range of people who served on this calendar committee and the process that drove the proposed calendar options. When our school district was figuring out whether to become a charter district or this strategic waiver school system, I learned that one teacher-yes, one of more than 6,000 teachers-served on that committee.
Much like the additional twenty minutes and the loss of first semester’s teacher work day in the first semester, the absence of any digital learning days on multiple snow days and the removal of any “pure” break calendar option, other than the December break, suggests that the different departments in the district don’t interact, the people informing district decisions have limited experience, and the ultimate decision undergoes little review.
How is it possible that our school district has the much publicized Digital Dreamers program and highly touted new district-created curriculum units and we still have no school district-organized digital learning experiences for students four months after the missed hurricane days? Stan, can you find out why the district couldn’t distribute all chrome books by the end of last semester? Can you also find out why the new curriculum units don’t appear to have any discreet digital learning activities, ones that could be for missed school days or supplemental activities, when the district knew that it would be rolling out the Digital Dreamers program at the same time that it’s rolling out a new curriculum? How did the tech department ever work with the curriculum and instruction department?
With regard to calendars and make-up days, can you find out about the actual process? Does the district consider the various stakeholders’ needs before rolling out revised schedules and calendar options? I noticed that the most recent HR vacancy report compares our district to districts in other states. Did the school district look to districts in other states to identify Thanksgiving and spring breaks as possible make-up days since I can’t find other big districts like Gwinnett and Cobb doing this? Did the district determine student and teacher absentee rates on make-up days during holiday breaks when people may have booked flights, hotels, etc…?
As a teacher, I also want to know whether the district can legally identify these possible make-up days as critical days. Is this something that the board discussed before approving one of the calendars?
Stan, There was a task force appointed by the district to recommend a major county-wide redistricting plan a few years ago. The people on it were known and the meetings were open. DCSD has had several other task forces in the past, more controversial than calendars, where those serving were publicized. If one agrees to serve on such a committee, one should be willing to have their name publicized – esp. when stakeholders want the district to be transparent. If that representative can’t support their choice, that’s their problem. As a parent, I want, and should be able, to share my thoughts/ideas with the parent rep that has been selected to represent the parent point of view.
The calendar decision was a recommendation to the BOE. Blame the BOE for voting for it. They have the choice to vote yes or no. A no vote would have sent it back to the administration for a different option. Our BOE rubber stamps everything. Hold them accountable during the next election.
My kids will be absent if make up days during scheduled breaks are needed.
What is the timeline for the “new” Austin School redistricting input and plan?
The school is scheduled to open in August 2019 and this will be a hot topic with many in Dunwoody especially as it affects their home values.
Any information, timelines and/or updates would be appreciated.
I tried to post this under an “Austin” thread but it would not let me.
Here’s a thought. The main reason for make up days is to ensure instructional time isn’t lost – especially before Georgia Milestones. High School End of Course Georgia Milestones start April 23. That’s over a month before the last day of school. This is not End of Course. I would recommend just bringing the kids in on President’s Day (why did they not think of that in the calendar committee before cutting Spring Break 2019 and 2020) and the teacher work day in March and push the tests back into May. The scores came back quickly enough 1st semester, that shouldn’t be a problem for 2nd semester. We have to get creative here and work with the resources available in the 21st century. By this time next year, all 6-12 students should have devices from Digital Dreamers. Utilize VERGE and have digital days like they do in Gwinnett. One of my friends from Gwinnett reported that 140,000 out of 180,000 Gwinnett students logged in to their digital platforms due to the (ahem) football day last week. We pay a lot of money for VERGE. Let’s use it.
@ Dunwoody Diva. The redistricting plan per the county will happen one year before the school opens. With Austin opening in 2019 the redistricting plan will come out in 2018. I’m going to place a bet that they, DCSD, is going to do it during the summer when no one is looking and like everything else it will be rubberstamped by our BOE except for the 1 “No” vote.
The state would have to push those tests back. The state determines the testing window, and school districts choose the actual testing days. Because so many more students take EOCs in May, those test results wouldn’t be back in time. In the last two years, some results still haven’t arrived before students and teachers left for the summer.
I’d say that eliminating MAP testing for this semester would be one way to focus on instruction this semester. As it is, teachers will have lost that time needed to analyze that data, especially if we lose that work day, even if we do still attend school for two or three of the days missed.
That is what the policy says, but the district doesn’t follow the policy anymore. Consider Rockbridge Elementary. It has over 500 empty seats and the BOE hasn’t voted on the new attendance lines yet.
“DeKalb County School District officials announced students will make up two days, one in February and one in March, and will survey parents about two other days to make up because of four missed days due to inclement weather.”
Once again, why are we the teachers and other district employees the last ones to know this information? Not even an email in regards to this. I was expecting to loose those days, but come on, communication from the district should be better.
Totally agree with kind.educator. Teachers are all too often the last to know, let alone have a voice.
I’m voting now to let the other two days go and write them off. I’m also voting early and often to oppose any attempt to inflict the extended days we endured first semester.
If it makes you feel any better, I was notified with the press release.
Update – Calendar Committee Names – Over the last couple months, I’ve made numerous requests to release the names of the Calendar Committee. This was my last request, made on 12/19/2017:
Can I get a list of names of the people on the calendar committee? I believe this information is subject to ORR. If not, please let me know why.
Response From Stacy Stepney, Exec. Director, Curriculum & Instruction – Please note the following update/response per your request:
Community Member – Damien M. (Region I)
Parent – Emily J. (Region I)
Teacher – Cassandra W. (Region I)
Student – Gabriel M. (Region II)
Parent – Carlton M. (Region II)
Community Member – Thomas P. (Region III)
Teacher – Felicia W. (Region III)
Student – Austin E. (Region IV)
Student – Victoria E. (Region IV)
School Level – Tanya M. (Region IV)
Parent – James B. (Region V)
School Level – Rhonda T. (Region V)
District CTAE – Paul Camick
District RAG – Knox Fhillips
District K-12 – Stacy Stepney
Senior Staff – Lisa Martin
Thank you for being persistent. It took over a month to get this information, based on your 12/19/2017 request.
So 12 non-Central Office people make up the Calendar Committee. There are
2 community members
2 school level (I guess this means they are administrators who don’t want to be identified?)
I think this is eye-opening. So few people, for a district with over 100,000 students and 6000 teachers.
Do people not want to serve? Or are they hand-picked to limit the size? And, while the calendar is important, it’s not the MOST important.
It’s hard to say. I still don’t know who is on the calendar committee. Why won’t they say? What are they hiding? Can I assume that every answer I get is a half truth? Can I assume they follow all the laws like they are following Georgia’s Sunshine Laws? Their response brings up more questions than it answers and it erodes trust with the public. I’m disheartened.
Apparently Maureen Downey has the full calendar committee list