School board approves Metcalfe, Rawlings year-round calendar 

Alachua County Public Schools admin building
Alachua County Public Schools admin building.
Photo by Seth Johnson

The School Board of Alachua County approved a calendar for Metcalfe and Rawlings Elementary Schools at its regular board meeting on Tuesday. Though the board had discussed a new version of the calendar at a workshop last week, it chose to approve the originally proposed calendar in a 4-1 vote. 

The two schools have been selected for a state pilot program to test a year-round school calendar model to reduce learning loss over the summer. 

The board originally sent the calendar back for further revision at its April 3 meeting, asking staff to gather more community input and eliminate a few three-day weeks in August. Those weeks are a result of a summertime four-day week schedule, combined with a few Monday holidays. 

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Staff presented a “B” option of the calendar at a workshop last week, and while board members said they liked that Friday classes had been added back to those summertime weeks, they asked again for more community input. 

The calendar came back again for approval on Tuesday night, and the superintendent’s recommendation was that the board approve the original calendar option. 

Superintendent Shane Andrew told the board that moving more school days to August would mean losing three assessment days in May, as the state’s assessment season starts on May 1. He also said some families with other children in schools that follow traditional calendars may not come back to Metcalfe and Rawlings until the regular start. 

“I just am afraid we may lose some instructional opportunity there on those Fridays if we’re in school and kids aren’t attending,” Andrew said. 

Board Member Kay Abbitt agreed with Andrew, saying the year-round schools would be different from other schools, and they would need to own that difference to make it work.  

“I don’t think we should start the school year by trying to conform to the traditional year calendar,” Abbitt said. 

Board Member Tina Certain made a motion to approve the “B” option of the calendar, saying that she still felt the decision was being rushed with too little public input. Certain said she would rather have the extra days off tagged onto intercessory breaks, instead of changing the school end date. 

“I can’t support either one of the calendars, but if I had to vote for one to put forth for y’all to send to the DOE, I would vote for the one where we start Monday through Friday,” Certain said. 

A few school staff members also came to the meeting to speak, asking for more communication with school staff, and for additional stipends for teachers who work the year-round calendar. 

The staff members also said the calendars the board has been looking at are not the same as what was originally presented to teachers, and that their dissatisfaction has been glossed over. 

Though school would be in session for the same number of days, the commenters said the schedule would still increase the teachers’ burden.  

“Especially as the first schools in the district to adopt the schedule, there will be a learning curve, and we know that this is going to be taken on by the teachers,” Kailey Knott, an art teacher at Metcalfe, told the board. 

Board Member Sarah Rockwell said she thinks Alachua County Public Schools needs to go back to the state and see if the plan, currently set to start this August, can be delayed for a year. 

“I can’t say I know for a fact what staff has done, because I don’t,” Rockwell said. “So when you tell me that these things that you need for this year-round program to be successful haven’t happened, I believe you. And if those things haven’t happened, we’re out of time. It is too late.” 

The board did not take any action on teacher stipends on Tuesday, but regardless of whether the district gets additional time from the state, it needed to approve a calendar to bring before the Department of Education before April 26. 

The board voted down Certain’s motion for the “B” option 4-1, with Certain as the only vote in favor. A second motion, made by Rockwell, to approve the original calendar option, carried 4-1, with Certain dissenting. 

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