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Schools may add week-long fall break

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

rclawrence@bellsouth.net

Roane County students and teachers may get a week off for fall break after all.

The school board passed a motion Thursday night to revisit the issue of the 2008-09 school calendar to include a full week off.

The Education Council, which is made up of school board members and school system employees, will come up with a new calendar and then return it to the board.

"We heard the community speak to us about the fall break that they've had for the past two years and they didn't have (next) year," Board Member Tyler Overstreet said.

The board could vote on a new calendar, one that includes a week-long fall break, at the February meeting.

"There was talk of deferring it at the November meeting, but we were told by the administration it needed to be in, so people could make arrangements," Board Member Michael "Brillo" Miller said. "Now we come back at the January meeting, and all of a sudden we hear nothing out of the administration. It's OK to put it off now."

Fall break had been a full week, but the 2008-09 calendar that was approved by the school board at the November meeting shortened it to just two days. Since that meeting, just two people appeared before the board to voice their dissatisfaction.

Apparently a lot was going on behind the scenes, though, because Thursday's motion to send the calendar back to the Education Council passed 8-2.

"There was a lot of complaints from teachers that they wanted their whole fall break," Miller said. "So the board has decided that after hearing those complaints they wanted to bring it back to the Education Council."

Miller and fellow Rockwood board member Wade McCullough both voted against the motion to revisit the calendar issue. Miller said he was in favor of the calendar that had already been approved.

"I think it was a good calendar," Miller said. "I think it was fair. What I've heard out of people is we need to start school later. That's what I've been told time and time again, and that's what I believe."

This school year, 2007-08, the first full day of school in Roane County was Aug. 8. August was the hottest month of 2007 and air conditioners broke down throughout the school system, leaving students and teachers in hot classrooms.

That was one reason behind the push for a later start date.

The calendar that was approved in November shortened fall break, but it did have a later start date of Aug. 15.

"That was the No. 1 thing that I heard: 'We need to start school later,'" Miller said. "We had all these complaints about how hot it was and how we always have broken-down air conditioners and things like that because we got some buildings that are older."

Both sides of the debate could find satisfaction in a new calendar. School Board Vice Chairman Everett Massengill said the Education Council will try to return a calendar that includes a week long fall break, but also keeps the later start date.

If not Aug. 15, at least something within that range.

"Most likely it will be just starting school one day early and letting it go two days longer," Massengill said. "Or it could be reversed. They could start school two days early and let it go one day longer."