Setting school year calendars in multi-district region is "very intentional," pupil personnel director says, as McCracken Co., Paducah Ind., other districts and private school coordinate their efforts

Paducah Sun, Aug. 25, 2017

School districts cooperate to match calendars

By JASON MORROW

It's no coincidence that area schools have nearly identical calendars each year, making it easier for students and their families to coordinate holidays and events.

This school year is no different as McCracken County Schools, Paducah Public Schools and St. Mary all have upcoming breaks that match almost exactly.

According to Troy Brock, director of pupil personnel for Paducah Public Schools, districts throughout the region are very open with each other when it comes to scheduling each year.

"It's very intentional," Brock said. "A lot of families will split their enrollments. Some of their kids may go to McCracken County while others may go to the city schools. As well, there are employees who may work for the county, but their kids come to the city or vice versa. They want to make those family plans."

First up is fall break, which lands on Oct. 9 for the week. The next big break would be Christmas with schools letting out on Dec. 21. For Paducah and McCracken schools, students won't have to go back until Jan. 3, while St. Mary students will resume on Jan. 2.

For spring break, the schools align once again, letting out on April 2.

Brian Bowland, director of pupil personnel for McCracken County Schools, said it was important for Paducah and McCracken schools to be on the same page because they share a trade school.

Similarly, McCracken and Marshall County Schools try to mirror each other's schedule because of their partnership with Commonwealth Middle College.

Under a law passed in March, school districts were given the option to start the school year beginning in 2018 no later than the Monday before Aug. 26 to be exempt from the 170-school day requirement, even though schools would still have to complete 1,062 hours of instructional time.

Changing the school calendar in this way would undoubtedly reshape the dates of breaks and how many days could be taken. The law was passed in an effort to help businesses throughout heavy tourism areas, but as it stands, few local districts plan to jump at the opportunity.

Currently, McCracken Schools and Paducah Schools are slated for 176 instructional days.

Bowland stressed that the new law was not a requirement for school districts, rather an option. He believes extending the summer break and reducing the number of school days would be a bad idea for McCracken County Schools.

"Typically a teacher is going to have a fresh lesson for a student every day," Bowland said. "If we go from 176 days to 152 days, that's 24 (days) missing from that child's education. Imagine a student who did not attend school for 24 days."

The law now requires a school district's calendar committee to include someone from the local tourism commission or chamber of commerce.

Differences in the calendar can arise when bad weather hits and some schools are forced to close.

Brock said most schools leave room for make-up days at the end of the school year, however.

"If we have situations where we have to make up days, we try to make those days up within the school calendar itself," he said.

In a worst case scenario, Brock said he has heard of districts having to cancel a spring break because of weather issues, but doing so is rare, especially for city schools. County schools tend to have more snow days.

"The city has more resources in terms of snow removal," Brock said.

Some school district calendars vary. Be sure to check your local district's calendar to verify future breaks.

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