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Kingsport's draft school calendar hits the 'sweet spot'

Rick Wagner • Sep 17, 2018 at 1:06 PM

KINGSPORT — The draft 2019-20 Kingsport City Schools calendar is drawing little controversy, school officials said, because of the way holidays and the days and months fall. A leap year doesn’t hurt, either.

Call it the “sweet spot” calendar, like Andy True does. During Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting, some visiting Dobyns-Bennett government class students and all members of a local Boy Scout group, who led the Pledge of Allegiance, left just before the 7 p.m. discussion of the draft calendar.

The no-brainer draft calendar presented by Assistant Superintendent of Administration True would start school on Monday, Aug. 5 and end with a half-day Thursday, May 21, followed by the Dobyns-Bennett graduation Saturday, May 23.

Fall break would be Oct. 14-18, with Thanksgiving break Nov. 27-29 and winter break Dec. 23-Jan. 3, although students wouldn’t return to school until Tuesday, Jan. 7, because of a teacher in-service the day before that. The school board is to vote on the calendar at its next regular meeting Oct. 11, following the Sept. 27 work session.

Martin Luther King Day is Jan. 20, with no school, and spring break would be March 23-27, and school would be out April 10, Good Friday, and for students on in-service days Oct. 4 and March 13.

Because 2020 is a leap year, the second semester will have an extra day, Feb. 29, making for two semesters of 89 days each. Because the system goes 30 minutes extra a day, it banks 13 days, two of which are reserved for in-service and the rest for snow or inclement weather days. Four snow days are taken automatically if needed, without board approval, but the board must approve taking more than those four.

Member Todd Golden said he gets questions about why in-service days with parent-teacher conferences can’t be paired with breaks for a longer time for students out of school. True responded that those days are spaced to coincide with the end of the nine-week grading period per teachers’ request. 

True, the calendar guru for the system and the voice of snow days on automated phone calls to student homes, said that it is easier to plan a school calendar when Christmas falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, and in 2019 it falls on a Wednesday. Things also are easier if the first Monday of August is not Aug. 1, which would have school start on either that date or Aug. 8.

For the record, the Kingsport calendar is similar to the Sullivan County Schools calendar the county school board approved Sept. 4. It also starts on Monday, Aug. 5, and ends on a half-day for students May 21, with the same fall break and Christmas break, but Sullivan’s spring break is a week earlier, March 16-20, followed by a March 23 administrative day when no students attend.

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