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Earlier Start To School Year

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Glenwood School Calendar Being Finalized For 2012-13

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

    The first semester will end at Christmas break in the 2012-2013 school year, so says the Glenwood Community School District Board of Directors in a measure passed at last Monday's regular board meeting.
    The board voted unanimously to begin the next school year Aug. 15 for third through 12th graders and Aug. 16 for kindergarten through second grade. Classes began Aug. 24 for the current school year.
    Under the new schedule, the last day of the first semester will be Dec. 21 and the second semester will resume after the holiday break, Jan. 7.
    School will release for summer break May 21.
    The new calendar differs from the 2011-12 schedule in that students will no longer have to come back after the holiday break for two weeks to finish up first semester work and finals. This change will most impact the high school, where semester classes are common and second semester changes in schedules are typically necessary.
    “It’s basically like starting the year again and having that over the weekend isn’t optimal for teachers and students,” said Kerry Newman, principal at Glenwood Community High School. “Having that break is very positive for learning.”
     Newman said some parents, students and faculty have expressed displeasure with starting the school year eight days earlier next August, but most agree, she said, the new schedule is a better fit.
    “I know that doesn’t sound like a lot (of days) but it is a big difference,” Newman said. “It’s another week of vacation for families and teachers. I feel that for parents with kids in baseball and softball and you finish in late July, it gives you only a week or two of real vacation. And that’s tough.”
    The new calendar includes 178 school days, two days of parent/teacher conferences, six holidays and four full professional development days. School registration is set for Aug. 2. Graduation will be held May 19. The new calendar also includes a continuation of the half-day, professional development days for teachers on Wednesdays. Students will be released at 1 p.m. on those days.
    Ending the first semester before Christmas break isn’t completely foreign in Glenwood. Newman said a similar timeline was followed during the 2010-2011 school year and has been done before.
    “The majority of us favor it. The response has been overwhelmingly in favor of it,” said Newman, citing a poll in the high school student newspaper, The Rambler, showing 97 percent of students in favor of the switch. “But those that aren’t (in favor) and don’t want to start the school year that early, I totally understand that.”
    End-of-year activities, including graduation, prom and sports banquets prevent the district from ending the year earlier than May 21, Newman said.
    “All of those senior activities make ending, say, a week earlier, not feasible. So spreading that second semester out is pretty important.”