Board approves new instructional calendar

WOODSTOCK – The Shenandoah County School Board approved a new instructional calendar at Thursday night’s meeting.

Superintendent Jeremy Raley proposed the new calendar at the Nov. 12 School Board meeting.

“It recognizes the value of what our community is,” Raley said about the calendar.

The new calendar will be implemented at the start of the 2017-2018 school year, giving the community and school staff 18 months to prepare for the transition. The 2016-2017 school year will remain the same, mirroring this year’s instructional calendar.

“[The new calendar] meets our instructional needs in many ways with the first semester ending in December, time held throughout the calendar to allow us to do ongoing professional development for our staff as education changes so quickly, and it recognizes the importance of agriculture in our community and in no way negatively impacts the students who participate in the fair and the adults who participate in the fair,” Raley said.

The 2017-2018 school year will begin for school staff on Aug. 1. Students will return to school Aug. 7.

To accommodate those involved in the county fair at the end of August, schools will be closed that week. Schools will also be closed on Election Day.

Chairman R.L. “Rick” Koontz Jr. asked how having three weeks of school and then having a week off for the fair will affect students.

Raley said that he has received positive feedback about a week off for the fair. The first three weeks allow teachers to discover a baseline for their students, so they can plan during the week of the fair how to continue their coursework.

Kids are very resilient, Raley said. “They’re not going to miss a beat.”

The first semester will end on Dec. 22, the Friday before Christmas break. The last day of the school year will be May 25.

Board member Sonya Williams-Giersch asked if the public had adequate time to consider the proposed calendar, and Raley responded that the calendar has been made public for two months.

“Change is difficult,” Raley said. But, he added, the county has 18 months to prepare for the changes.

The next School Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 14.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com