It will be an early start and finish to the school year for Pickerington Local School District students in 2014-15, based on a recently approved calendar.
The Pickerington Board of Education Feb. 10 unanimously approved the 2014-15 school calendar, and it looks a bit different from previous years.
The first day of classes for Pickerington Local School District students in grades 1-12 will begin Aug. 13, and kindergarten students will begin their year Aug. 19.
The final day of classes for teachers and students will be May 22.
The calendar's approval means students will start and end the upcoming school year about one week earlier than in 2013-14, when 1-12 classes started Aug. 19 and were scheduled to end May 30.
"This is a pretty noticeable shift," said board member Cathy Olshefski.
"We're back in school in mid-August, but we'll be done, assuming there are no (makeup) days, by Memorial Day."
According to PLSD Assistant Superintendent Bob Blackburn, part of the scheduling shift was driven by efforts to end the first semester prior to the winter holiday break.
Next school year, Dec. 18 will be the end of the first semester and students' final day of class before going on holiday break from Dec. 19-Jan. 2.
District teachers will have a "teacher record day" Dec. 19, but there will be no classes.
"We tried to make sure we finished the first semester before we went to winter break," Blackburn said.
"In the past, we had another two weeks after the winter break to finish the first semester."
The board also has scheduled two-hour "late starts" on Sept. 24 and Oct. 16, where students won't report to classes until two hours after their normal start times.
Those days were provided as "professional development days" for teachers, who will use the time to assess individual student's learning progress.
In addition to the start and end dates and the late-start dates, spring break will begin March 30, 2015, and classes will resume April 6, 2015.
The board also approved school makeup days -- in the event they are needed -- for Feb. 16 and May 26-29, 2015.
"The makeup days are approved," board member Lori Sanders said.
"People should plan and expect (them) with your personal schedules.
"People should be planning to make up any days with that schedule."
How the district will handle makeup days in 2014-15 will be dictated by the board.
Next school year, district's no longer will be allotted five "calamity days" for inclement weather or other issues that might force school to be cancelled.
Rather, districts must provide a minimum number of instructional hours.
Under new requirements for 2014-15, Ohio public schools for grades 7-12 must be open for a minimum of 1,001 hours of instruction.
Schools serving students in grades K-6 must be open at least 910 hours of instruction.
Blackburn noted the board currently is considering shortening lunch periods for some grade levels, as an attempt to create more flexibility for students and extra instruction in certain classes.
That could result in additional instruction hours being offered in 2014-15, but currently the calendar provides for 34 more hours than are required by the state standard for high school students.
"We tried to build in enough time in there so we would not have to have makeup days," Blackburn said. "It will be the board's decision if we need to make up any days."
The 2014-15 school calendar is available at www.pickerington.k12.us.