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By PAMELA GOULD
Spotsylvania County is considering starting its school year the day after Labor Day next fall, which would align it with most public schools in the Fredericksburg area.
The School Board won't make a decision until February. A committee led by principals from each school level has been gathering input from staff, parents and others in the community of each school district since October. The committee is providing information that could be used for making a change in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
More than half of the communities surveyed--16 of 31, or 52 percent--prefer to have the school year begin the day after Labor Day, the committee told the board this week.
The next-most-popular option was to start one week before Labor Day.
However, people also want to avoid having students end the school year in late June, a point that committee leaders and board members said is nearly impossible with the other preferences expressed.
Those surveyed also want to find a way to give students a two-week winter break.
"Something's going to have to give," School Board member Jim Meyer said in response to those requests.
He said he wants the committee to present a calendar it sees as the best for student instruction.
This year, Spotsylvania started on Aug. 21, two weeks before the divisions that open the day after Labor Day.
In the region, only Culpeper, Louisa and Fauquier school districts joined Spotsylvania in starting classes in August.
Spotsylvania students are scheduled to finish this school year on June 6.
Spotsylvania implemented the early start to the school year in the 2005-06 academic year to provide more instructional time prior to administration of Standards of Learning tests, schools spokeswoman Rene Daniels said.
Each year a division wants a pre-Labor Day start, it must receive permission from the state. To qualify for consideration, the division must average at least eight days of school closure because of weather or other emergencies over five years of the previous decade.
Data assembled by the committee show Spotsylvania may not qualify for the coming school year unless students miss nine school days this year.
Here are key dates for crafting Spotsylvania's instructional calendar for the next two school years:
FEB. 11--Calendar Committee presents options for the 2013-14 school year to the School Board. The board then requests input from the public.
FEB. 25--School Board approves the 2013-14 instructional calendar.
MARCH 25--Calendar Committee presents to the School Board its proposed calendar for the 2014-15 school year. The board then requests input from the public.
APRIL 8--School Board approves the 2014-15 instructional calendar.