After surveying parents, students and teachers and hosting public forums about possibly changing to a year-round calendar, Greenwood County School District 50 trustees voted 7-2 on Monday to adopt the new schedule beginning in the 2021-22 academic year.
The modified calendar shortens summer but includes two-week remediation breaks every nine weeks, which means students still have 180 school days each year.
During the past two months, the district hosted community meetings to share data, plans and to hear from residents on the matter. The reception varied — there was support and skepticism on the matter — but residents were involved and a factor in the decision-making process for board members.
“People came away knowing more about this district and that was huge,” Chairman David Trent said.
The majority of board members advocated for the new calendar, while two offered concerns and thoughts that ultimately led to them voting against it. Trustees Claude Wright and Clay Sprouse opposed the calendar for separate reasons.
Sprouse thought the district could have done a better job presenting the calendar to the community, but he did note that the community forums were a success.
He also wasn’t a proponent of the data that’s out there in regard to the success rate of year-round calendars and suggested the district wait three years to observe the results from McCormick County schools that went to a modified schedule this year. He also questioned the fairness of the change in regard to Ware Shoals and Ninety Six, who might have to implement the same calendar because the districts share the Russell Technology Center.
Wright said there were other ways to improve test scores without changing the calendar. He particularly liked the “After School Homework Center” idea that a resident recommended at one of the community meetings. He also denounced the notion of poverty being a deterrent to academic success.
The two board members voiced concerns that a number of residents mentioned at community meetings, but the majority of the board chose to support the motion.
The district will now apply for a waiver from the state’s Department of Education; if the waiver is granted, the modified calendar will be in place after the 2020-21 school year, which will run on a traditional calendar.