School calendar in Loudon discussed

LOUDON - Children in Loudon County might see some adjustments to their school calendar for the 2010-11 academic year.

A special workshop of the Loudon County school board met Monday night to discuss changes to the calendar that might include shorter vacations, shorter school days or a combination of both.

The Loudon school system calendar currently runs 7<0x0192> hours per day for 175 days per year. The extra half-hour per day is required to make up five days that bring the total school year to the state-mandated minimum of 180 days.

"An extra 30 minutes a day does not equal five days of school," board member Gary Ubben said.

Ubben, a professor of education at University of Tennessee, also said he would be cautious about a later starting date that would lengthen the summer vacation and perhaps push the first semester of school past the Christmas break.

"Studies have shown that children tend to forget what they've learned over the summer," he said.

It also has been proven that test scores drop if children are forced to split the first semester of school with a holiday breaks, he said.

Board member Van Shaver said he had received a number of calls from parents complaining that their children were not doing much work in the final weeks of school.

"It's obvious that after the TCAPs, they're done," Shaver said of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests that are administered in the spring.

Financial issues must also be considered, said board member Bill Marcus. Adding days to the school year adds to the school budget, he pointed out.

The board voted unanimously to add four parents to the calendar committee; one from each of the geographic areas of the school system. One representative from the central office and one principal also will be added to the committee before the issue is discussed again in September.