3 school districts reveal unified 2013-14 calendar - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

3 school districts reveal unified 2013-14 calendar

Superintendents from Madison, Huntsville, and Madison County unveiled their unified calendar for 2013-14 Monday afternoon. Superintendents from Madison, Huntsville, and Madison County unveiled their unified calendar for 2013-14 Monday afternoon.
MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

The Tennessee Valley's three major school districts plan to work together to coordinate next year's school year and also to fight to change it.

Superintendents from Madison, Huntsville, and Madison County unveiled their unified calendar for 2013-14 Monday afternoon.

It's the calendar the state requires, not one of their choosing.

State Senator Bill Holtzclaw said the entire Tennessee Valley delegation is already in favor of letting school districts opt out of the calendar.

They hope they, and parents all over the state, will push lawmakers from other parts of the state to give school systems the right to pick their own school days. 

"Misery loves company, and we're all caught in a quagmire," said Madison Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler.

And that was the tone as three superintendents unveiled their unified calendar for the school year starting this fall: a tight schedule from August 19 to Memorial Day, as required by state law - and one they hope to get out of.

Holtzclaw is pushing a new bill to let school systems opt out and avoid a list of problems this calendar creates, like no fall break and an awkward end to the holidays.

"Coming back from Christmas for one day, obviously not great for attendance," said Dr. Casey Wardynski, Huntsville City Schools Superintendent.

"Well, how are we going to make up for a snow day because we're packed in with school days?" asked Fowler.

Madison and Madison County are making hopeful plans.  They have drawn up alternate calendars in which the school year starts on August 6. Madison County has officially approved it, just in case the law gets changed, which Holtzclaw said is a good idea.

"When you're able to look at that and see that the fall break exists in one calendar and not in the other, then you're able to see the value of the public being involved," Holtzclaw said.

The Alabama tourism industry has long lobbied for the longer summer and compressed school year, but educators say this calendar fails in its most important job: helping kids learn.

"It's something the teachers are telling me. They're telling me that they're spending much more time re-teaching rather than teaching new content so, again, it puts kids behind a couple of weeks," said Jenny Robinson with the Huntsville School Board.

While they're at it, Madison County school planners have already approved a calendar for the school year that starts next fall in 2014.

That would be after the current mandated calendars are scheduled to expire, and it includes an earlier start date and a fall break.

Copyright 2013 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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