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OSD Adopts 2018-2019 Academic Calendar After Lengthy Discussion

Board members of the Oxford School District approved the 2018-2019 academic calendar in a special meeting on Friday, and schools are now set to begin Wednesday, Aug. 8. Displeased with the calendar presented in the Jan. 22 regular meeting, board members scheduled the special meeting to discuss alternative calendar options.

Board members talked about parents who had expressed concern about beginning school too early, and others mentioned teachers who felt a fall break was necessary, leaving the board in a bind to decide where to fit 90 days of the first semester onto the calendar.
“You’re not going to please everybody,” board member Scott Shipman said.
The original option, dubbed Option A, started the new school year on August 6. It favored teachers who desired a fall break, according to board member Ray Hill. But as for the working parents who have to find child care for “some random week in October,” the calendar was not ideal.
“[Option A] is the one that is the least favored for all of the parents,” Hill said. “They hate that – starting on the 6th – they lose basically a full week of vacation. They think the summer’s too short as it is. And it gives three days for fall break, which is a lot. I appreciate the teachers wanting a break, but this is very, very difficult for working families.”
Options B and C both had school scheduled to begin on Aug. 8. Option B included a one-day fall break and no school the week of Thanksgiving, while Option C included a three-day fall break, and school would be in session on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.
Still unhappy with the alternative options, board member Ray Hill suggested a fourth.
“The fourth option would have us begin classes Aug. 10, which is a Friday,” Hill said. “It would eliminate fall break altogether.”
After there was no second to the motion, board member Marian Barksdale wanted to explain why she opposed Hill’s suggestion.
“We’ve gotten lots of comments from teachers about this calendar, and I think the teachers will be really unhappy if they do not have a fall break,” Barksdale said. “I feel families might be unhappy, but I feel like teachers have expressed that they really need a break.”
As the board takes into consideration both the Lafayette County School District and the University of Mississippi’s calendars when adopting their own, Hill noted that the University doesn’t have a fall break.
“Fall break makes no sense,” Hill said.
After back-and-forth discussion between board members and no second to a motion in favor of Option B, board president Gray Edmonson said, “I guess we will entertain motions for [Options] A, C or any fifth alternative, but we need to approve a calendar here, today.”
Superintendent Brian Harvey responded, “It’s going to be a house divided, no matter what. It is every year.”
Board member Ramona Reed then made a motion in favor of Option A, which Hill quickly denounced. 
“If we’re serious as a board at reaching a compromise, Option A is not the way to go,” Hill said. “It’s just not a compromise at all. It’s just what the teachers want … and what the administration has suggested from the start.”
While a majority of teachers might be unhappy with the option, Barksdale said she’s heard from some parents herself, all of whom agreed with Hill’s calendar suggestion.
“Well I’ve heard about two or three parents, too,” Edmonson said. “I don’t think any of their [opinions] were the same. So …”
Board attorney Paul Watkins joined in the conversation and said, “Fifty percent of the parents in my house want to know if y’all will keep the [kids] for 200 days,” and the room filled with laughter.
Ultimately, Option A failed as there was no second for the motion made by Reed.
“Just me for Option A? That’s fine,” Reed said. “Just let me say this: I’ve had two kids come through the system. The calendar’s here. If we desire to give this fall break in here, then I know way ahead of time, ‘I’ve got to take some personal leave’ or ‘I’ve got to get somebody else to watch my kids for those days.’ Those teachers are needing a break in order for them to be productive, and they basically pleaded to us that they needed a break. The calendar will be out there long before [fall break]. You know what it is, and you make provisions for it. It’s plain and simple. To me, it is. It’s not easy, but you got to do what you got to do.”
A motion was then made for Option B and seconded. Hill again disapproved.
“I’ll be against Option B because two days is two days too long for fall break,” Hill said.
With two members in favor and two against the motion to adopt Option B, Edmonson made a move to break the tie, and Option B was adopted as the 2018-2019 academic calendar.
“It’ll be [Option] B. We have a calendar,” Edmonson said. “For better or worse, that’s what we got.”


By Randall Haley, Editor-in-Chief of HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at randall.haley@hottytoddy.com.

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