Schools starting back earlier in 2014

After starting back to school in the third week of August for the past two years, students and teachers in the Russellville City School System will be returning to an earlier start date for the 2014-2015 school year.

At Thursday’s meeting, the Russellville City School Board approved the 2014-2015 school calendar, which has teachers reporting back on Aug. 4 and students reporting for the first day of school on Aug. 7.

RCS Superintendent Rex Mayfield said the earlier start date will allow teachers and students to have more breaks during the year.

“We have a committee who meets and decides on an initial calendar with a couple of different options that we then send out to the employees,” Mayfield said.

“We let the employees vote on which calendar they like best and then we bring that calendar before the board for it to be approved.

“This particular calendar does have the students and teachers coming back earlier than they have the past two years, but they will also have more built-in breaks throughout the year than they have had.

“I think it’s better for both the teachers and the students to have these breaks during the year. It just helps everyone get recharged.”

All public school systems in the state had to change their calendars starting with the 2012-2013 school year in order to comply with the Flexible School Calendar Act, passed in May 2012, which stated that schools could start no sooner than two weeks prior to Aug. 17 and end no later than the Friday before Memorial Day, with students attending class for 180 days or for 1,080 hours total each year.

The original purpose of the bill was to move back the start of public schools in Alabama in order extend the summer tourist and vacationing season.

Rep. Randy Davis (R-Daphne), who sponsored the bill, said he thought the move could generate as much as $22 million in tax revenue for the state since tourists would have more time to go to the beach or to other state attractions during the summer months.

Gov. Bentley, however, vetoed the bill stating local school systems should be given the authority to decided the start and end dates that worked best for their systems and their students.

But state lawmakers chose to override the veto on May 10, 2012, which automatically made the bill a law.

Mayfield said the parameters of the bill ran out at the end of 2013, so that is what allowed the system to adopt a calendar similar to ones they had prior to its implementation in 2012.

“We think this will be the best calendar for everyone involved,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield said the calendar approved at Thursday’s meeting would give students and teachers a three-day holiday at Thanksgiving (Nov. 26-28), two full weeks for Christmas (Dec. 22, 2014-Jan. 2, 2015), two days for a mini-spring break in March (March 26-27, 2015) and a full week for spring break in April (April 13-17, 2015).

Also, four half days have also been built in on Sept. 19, Oct. 17, Dec. 19, and Jan. 30, 2015.

A complete calendar for the 2014-1015 school year can be found at www.rcs.k12.al.us.

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