Kershaw County School District students will report back to school on Monday, Aug. 18 but the schedule for the first two days of the 2014-15 school year will look different than in years past.
“Each year we assemble a districtwide committee of parents, employees and community members to help us develop the best recommendation for an overall school calendar,” said KCSD Superintendent Frank Morgan. “Since at times the needs of elementary schools are different than those of secondary schools, this year we are trying something different with our start to hopefully best serve all of our students.”
Morgan said that the district’s first two days will be early dismissal days for students. Elementary students will dismiss at 11:30 a.m., middle school students at 11:45 a.m. and high schools at noon on Aug. 18 and 19.
According to Communications Director Mary Anne Byrd, the early dismissal days are an attempt to combat fatigue that the district’s youngest learners often experience with a full five-day week start while still allowing for the maximum amount of instructional time as possible before state testing at the end of the school year.
“By state law, we cannot start school until the third Monday in August, which limits our scheduling to an extent,” Byrd said. “The committee thought that this solution was worth trying to see if we could begin school on the first day allowed by state law but make accommodations for our youngest learners who would benefit from shorter days while they make the transition to a school schedule.”
Morgan said that the early dismissal on those afternoons will also allow teachers with beginning of the school year preparations and planning, especially when modifications have to be made to serve new students who had not previously registered.
“We know that this is a change from the normal schedule start, but when I heard the committee’s reasoning, I thought it was worth trying, and the school board agreed,” said Morgan. “We won’t know if it is a good idea until we try it. I greatly appreciate the cooperation from our families with this.”
Morgan said the 2014-15 school year calendar also includes early dismissal days on October 13 and February 13 where the afternoons will also be used for teacher planning and training.