The beginning of the 2013-2014 school year will come more than a week earlier than recently for Pickerington Local School District students.
The Pickerington Board of Education Jan. 28 voted 3-1 to approve the 2013-2014 school calendar.
Although discussions related to how the district will implement new state mandates for curriculum and student and teacher assessments, as well as how exams will be dealt with at the high school level, are still being held, officials said they wanted to give parents an update about when classes will be in session.
"(The calendar) basically is a shell of when we're out of school," said board member Lori Sanders. "These are strictly guidelines for days off."
In 2013-14, the first day of school for students in grades 1-12 will be Aug. 19.
Kindergarten students will begin their school year on Aug. 22.
The new calendar yields an earlier start time than in recent years.
In 2012-13, the district began classes for grades 1-12 on Aug. 27, and kindergarten started Aug. 30.
According to board President Cathy Olshefski, the calendar reverts back to a more traditional schedule for the district.
She said hat in the past three school years, classes started later because the district was involved in renovations at its five oldest school buildings.
"For about three calendar cycles, we did push the start of school back due to construction," Olshefski said. "This isn't really a brand-new concept to start school in the third week of August. This bumps everything up about three weeks, which allows us to end in May."
The final day of the 2013-14 school year is slated for May 30.
Additionally, Thanksgiving break will take place from Nov. 27-29, and the holiday break will occur from Dec. 23-Jan. 3, with classes resuming Jan. 6.
Spring break will be March 24-28.
Additional calendar information is available on the district website, pickerington.k12.oh.us.
"(The new calendar) is being well received by the community for (the early start) and the nice, long Christmas break," Olshefski said.
Board member Clay Lopez was not present for the calendar vote and Olshefski cast the lone dissenting vote.
Olshefski said her opposition was related to the fact high school students might be forced to take first-semester exams during the first week back from the holiday break.
"It's really that issue of ending the first semester that first week after Christmas break," Olshefski said.
"I'm just concerned as a parent that if we do give those comprehensive exams that first week after 17 days off, that might not be the best thing for our kids."
How and when exams will be administered at the high school level is something board members have been discussing publically for a month and the talks remain ongoing.
It's part of the districtwide shift to implementation of the Common Core, a state-mandated academic system, in time for the 2013-14 school year.
Following state legislation, Ohio has joined 45 other states in adopting the Common Core State Standards in math and English and standards in other subjects are being rewritten now.
The new tests are designed to measure how well students grasp learning concepts and show whether they are ready for college or a career.
Additionally, teachers and building administrators will be evaluated based on their students' academic performances.
"There's so much change swirling around in the education world right now," Olshefski said.
"It's overwhelming, and it really is affecting everything we do.
"It's all part of the beginning of some wide-reaching conversations about what the school calendar should look like," she said.
"I think there's going to be a slow migration to something that's probably going to look different than it does today."