The Sumner County Board of Education voted unanimously Nov. 17 to approve a school district calendar that starts the 2021-22 school year on Aug. 3 and ends in late May of 2022.
School board members were presented with three options recommended by a district-wide calendar committee at a study session on Nov. 10.
Scott Langford, assistant director of schools for instruction, told board members that the committee is comprised of 21 members from across the district and includes parents, teachers, assistant principals, principals and two high school students.
State regulations require that school districts offer 180 days of instruction as well as 10 administrative and professional learning days. At least five of those days must be used for professional learning and one administrative day must be a parent-conference day.
Langford said the decision to break for a week at Thanksgiving for the first time this year was a popular one among committee members who incorporated that into two of three of the calendar choices brought before the board.
Committee members voted 19 to 2 on Preference 1 with the two high school students voting on Preference 2, Langford noted.
When District 4 school board member Sarah Andrews asked why the students preferred another calendar than the other committee members, Langford said that the students wanted to end the school year earlier. Preference 2 ends the school year on May 24 while Preference 1 ends it on May 26.
District 5 school board member Jeff Duncan asked if there was any way the school district could stagger start dates at the beginning of the school year like the district did earlier this year due to COVID-19.
“At the beginning of this year we heard how wonderful it was to stagger the start of school,” said Duncan.
Director of Schools Dr. Del Phillips said the school district has asked the state Department of Education if that would be possible, and is waiting for a response.
“We’ll continue to monitor [that],” he said. “If the state says it’s an option, we’ll come back to the board and talk about it at that time.”
The approved 2021-22 school year calendar includes a weeklong fall break Oct. 4-8; a weeklong Thanksgiving break from Nov. 22-26; a winter break from Dec. 20-Jan. 3 and a spring break from March 14-18, 2022.
Board members will vote on the school calendar for Union Elementary Stem and Demonstration School, the district’s only year-round school, at the next school board meeting on Dec. 8.