The Stephens County School System approves its 2014-2015 school calendar.
Stephens County Board of Education members approved the calendar for next school year by a 5-2 vote at their meeting on Tuesday.
David Fricks and Jim Ledford voted against the calendar.
Ledford said he feels the calendar has school starting way too early.
Under the approved calendar, school will start for students on August 11. That is more than a week earlier than this year’s start date, which was August 22.
The early start date was a concern raised by multiple school board members.
Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten said it came about after the high school requested it.
“The testing window for the end of course tests barely goes over into January and one thing they felt like was important for the students was to finish up that first semester before we go home for Christmas,” said Whiten.
Whiten said that the school system also looked at what other area schools are doing and notes that the August 11 start date is pretty much in line other schools.
She said that is important because of parents who may work in one school system and have children in another, as well as for the benefit of services that Stephens County may share with other area school systems.
An earlier start date in August could mean higher energy costs for the school system.
Whiten said that is something the school system considered, but felt other things took precedence.
“That is a concern, but at the same time we just felt like we had to weigh all of our different options and we felt like for our students to be successful, especially on the high school level, that we needed to be able to finish up (the semester) before Christmas,” said Whiten.
The approved 2014-2015 calendar includes 178 student days, just short of the original proposal of 180 days.
Whiten said that came after listening to comments made on the first proposed calendars.
“We did put in a Fall Break,” said Whiten. “Rather than take away somewhere else, what we decided to do was just go with 178 days.”
The 178 student days in the 2014-2015 school calendar is more than what was in this year’s original calendar. This year had 174 student days prior to losing days due to inclement weather.
Under the approved calendar, the 2014-2015 school year would end in Stephens County on May 22, 2015. That is before Memorial Day and just over a week earlier than when school will be ending this year.