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Gahanna-Jefferson

Calendar for 2014-15 school year will begin Aug. 13

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Classes will start earlier in August for Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools students in the next two years.

The G-J school board Jan. 9 approved calendars for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years.

The first day of classes for students during the next two school years will be Aug. 13 and Aug. 12, respectively.

Another change for 2014-15 involves moving spring break to April 3-10. The winter break will be Dec. 22-Jan. 3. The last day of classes for students will be May 27.

Jenny Palguta, president of the Gahanna Teachers Association, said the committee that recommended the calendars included a teacher from the elementary, middle and high school levels, as well as two administrators and Jeff Conklin, assistant athletics director who schedules many activities at the high school.

"I felt the committee was very collaborative," Palguta said. "We came in with concerns from last time. Part of the issue is the elementary on trimesters and others on a semester."

Classes will resume in August three days earlier than in the 2013-14 school year.

A concern from the elementary this year was in starting with a five-day week, she said.

That will change with teachers resuming work Aug. 11-12 and students beginning classes Wednesday, Aug. 13.

"With state mandates, we looked at our testing for the high school in March and middle school testing in late April," Palguta said. "We also felt we needed to start earlier to work with third-graders on the third-grade reading guarantee."

She said the high school teachers wanted to finish a full semester before the winter break, so that also was a reason for an earlier start date.

"What went into this is what we felt worked best for students," Palguta said. "It's difficult. You aren't going to make everyone happy."

Superintendent Francis Scruci said next year's calendar also takes into account a new state law with minimum requirements based on hours instead of days of instruction.

High school and middle school students will be required to attend 1,001 hours, whereas elementary school students will need 955 hours. He said the district's students easily would exceed the requirement.

Scruci said the committee spent a lot of time incorporating teachers' professional development days within the calendar.

An issue with this year's calendar was related to families who had students in both elementary and secondary schools.

"There were days when elementary kids were in and secondary were out," Scruci said. "That was a complaint I heard early in the year. I'm pleased with the calendar next year. When one kid is out, the other will be out. I think that's an advantage of the calendar going forward."

Although the district typically takes spring break in late March, he said, next year's testing window for the Ohio Graduation Test is March 16-20, with makeups March 23-27.

"We couldn't take a week for spring break at that normal time," Scruci said. "Easter falls in April next year. Good Friday is April 3, so our break starts on April 3. That's why we went away from March. It was a testing window we had to comply with and we were concerned about."

Scruci said other central Ohio school districts also would resume classes as early as Aug. 13, including Olentangy and Westerville.

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