During Monday night’s Williamson County Schools Board of Education meeting, members approved a calendar for the next academic year that closely mirrors the current one.
The first semester will have 86 instructional days, and the second 91. The school year will open with a half day on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.
To view the entire calendar, go to this link or view it at the bottom of this story.
A committee of five WCS teachers, a PTO president, a spokesperson and several other faculty members worked together on next year’s calendar, explained Kerry Vaughn, president of the Williamson County Education Association.
Nine of the 11 board members present voted in favor of the calendar; Sheila Cleveland, District 7, and Jay Galbreath, District 6, voted against the motion.
Cleveland said she has always been an advocate of a full week for fall break so students can have time to reset and take a mental health break after exams.
“There are many stress factors in today’s world upon our children,” she said. “I’m just hoping that a week from school after each grading period is just one small step to help cope with the stress, have downtime and come back to school ready to be the students they aspire to be.”
Galbreath agreed with Cleveland.
“This is the one issue that really touches families and impacts their lives as much as anything,” he said.
But, board member Eric Welch, District 10, argued lengthening fall break would be detrimental to families without the luxury of taking off work to go on vacation.
“Let’s not forget that segment of our community that’s not always heard from as much,” he said, pointing to single parents or families where both parents work full time. “For them, during this time, they have to find childcare. Let’s think about all of our parents.”
Vaughn also pointed out that school staff don’t get paid for days when the system is closed.
“We all like breaks, but it’s important for us as a committee to think about all stakeholders,” he said. “A break for one person may be a great thing, and a break for another person, a hardship.”
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Leigh Webb said one of the reasons the committee decided not to lengthen fall break was the importance of continuity in the fall semester, especially given the shorter teaching period.
Another question that has come up in recent years is whether or not to observe Veteran’s Day by closing the school system.
Next year’s calendar does not allot for an out-of-school day, though the board agreed the schools are a good place to learn about the importance of military service and honoring veterans.
Member Dan Cash, District 2, said he thought it was important for schools to be open and recognize Veteran’s Day.
“Forty-one thousand students, if it’s done right, will be leaving class on Veteran’s Day knowing the importance of a veteran,” he said, calling for patriotic songs and other forms of celebration surrounding the national holiday.
2020-2021 Key Break Dates (No School)
Sept. 7: Labor Day
Oct. 8-9: Fall Break
Nov. 23-27: Thanksgiving Break
Dec. 21-Jan. 1: Winter Break
Jan. 18: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
March 15-19: Spring Break
April 2: Spring Holiday
May 31: Memorial Day
Additionally, the calendar makes provision for five professional development days for teachers:
Aug. 4: District-Wide
Aug. 5: Site-Based
Oct. 12: Site-Based
Nov. 3: District-Wide *Election Day
Feb. 15: Site-Based