Schools make calendar changes …

Students in Brevard Public Schools will get an extra three days off over winter break next year, and their spring break will move to March.

The School Board unanimously approved the changes at its Jan. 23 meeting, after seeking input from more than 11,000 households via a survey sent out last year. A committee made up of administrators, teachers and district-level employees created the calendar.

The last day of school before winter break will be Dec. 21 and school resumes Jan. 10. Students get out for spring break on March 14, March 15 being a teacher workday, and will return to school March 25. The first day of school for students will be Aug. 10, and the last will be May 30.

“Spring break, I love it being in March,” said Arielle Trainor, whose daughter is in first grade at Holland Elementary in Satellite Beach. “It’s too close to getting out of school for the year in April, plus it’s so hot here to do anything.”

Early-release days are moving from Wednesday to Friday, as previously announced, in part to help smooth over a contract dispute between the school board and teachers.

The school calendar is largely determined to comply with three factors. The first is state law that says end-of-the-year standardized testing must take place during a four-week period in May. The second is also state law, which dictates that there must be 90 instructional days in each semester. And, finally, there is a strong desire by parents and district officials to continue the practice of ending the first semester before Christmas.

The board had reviewed three different calendar options late last year. The calendar is reviewed annually.

The only point of contention among board members was the Veterans Day holiday. Some members want to make that a school day and add the day off to Thanksgiving week, and eventually make that a whole week off school.

That proposal was tabled until next year, because it would require changing language in teacher contracts.

Christine Moore, director of professional learning and development for Brevard Public Schools, said that having a whole week off at Thanksgiving was the No. 1 comment among parents who responded to the calendar survey.

Board member Andy Ziegler was the strongest supporter of eliminating the Veterans Day holiday. Ziegler is advocating for a day of activities honoring and celebrating veterans, instead of a day off. Many of the schools, including Ocean Breeze Elementary in Indian Harbour Beach, host schoolwide Veterans Day ceremonies with patriotic music and special speakers either the day before, or the day after the holiday.

Other board members said they had received feedback from ROTC and veterans’ groups who want to keep the holiday.  “They were all pretty much in solidarity about wanting to have the day off,” board Chairman John Craig said.


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