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Tallmadge -- Tallmadge City Schools' 2014-15 calendar will be based on instructional hours instead of school days now that the Board of Education has given it the official approval.
A change in state law required the school district to create the calendar in hourly increments, according to Superintendent Jeff Ferguson.
School districts with half-day kindergarten must have at least 455 hours for kindergarten through sixth grade, and those with all-day kindergarten must have at least 910 hours, including Tallmadge, as it doesn't offer half-day kindergarten.
For grades seven to 12, all school districts are required to have at least 1,001 hours. For both the state minimum and Tallmadge's calendars, in-service, conference and other school district support days are included.
Tallmadge's calendar exceeds the required minimums with 1,080 hours for Dunbar Primary and Munroe Elementary schools and 1,170 hours for the middle school and high school.
Ferguson said the number of hours in the calendar is equivalent to the number of days in this school year's calendar. Tallmadge Schools has 182 instructional days this school year, and the state requires a minimum of 177. Ferguson said the change to hours doesn't impact the school district as much as it might other districts because Tallmadge has more than the required minimum of hours.
"I think this calendar pretty much aligns to what, over the last few years, our parents and students have come to expect," Ferguson said.
Board President Rick Kellar said a calendar based on hours offers the district more flexibility for calamity days.
"We're grateful we have more latitude to cancel or delay school and preserve the safety of the kids without worrying about calamity days," he said.
Kellar said next year's calendar is also similar to this year's as far as scheduled days off for holidays and other breaks, and he's pleased with how the calendar for next year is laid out.
An earlier start, end
Before the 2012-13 school year, the district's calendars had earlier start days in August and earlier ending days in May. This school year began Aug. 18 and is scheduled to end May 29, 2014, and the 2014-15 school year will begin Aug. 18, 2014, and end May 27, 2015.
Kellar said the most significant reason for the forward shift in the school calendar was so the first semester is completed before winter break in December instead of in January.
"It allows us to not split the semester where the kids that have final exams go home, take two plus weeks off, come back and then have to review for a week and then take a test on materials they haven't been engrossed in for almost a month previous," Kellar said.
Ferguson said calendars without the first semester split by winter break are similar to those students will experience in college.
Hot weather at the start of school years in mid-August is sometimes a problem in buildings that aren't air conditioned, but not every school year has started during weather with high temperatures, he said.
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