First day of school, why on a Fri­day?

The Covington News - - Local News - STAFF RE­PORTS news@cov­news.com

New­ton County students went back to school on a Fri­day this year, which left some students and par­ents be­fud­dled; how­ever, school of­fi­cials said the first day be­ing on Fri­day was sim­ply a sched­ul­ing ne­ces­sity.

Of­fi­cials had to work with a num­ber of fac­tors, in­clud­ing a set 178-day cal­en­dar and the de­sire to have the first se­mes­ter sched­uled to end prior to the win­ter hol­i­day break, said She­lia Thomas, di­rec­tor of fed­eral pro­grams for the New­ton County School Sys­tem.

Thomas said a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from each school met to draft the cal­en­dar and had to deal with a num­ber of lim­i­ta­tions.

“The 178-day school cal­en­dar was cre­ated with the fol­low­ing con­cerns in mind: state hol­i­days, re­quired num­ber of days for stu­dent at­ten­dance, want­ing the first se­mes­ter to end prior to the win­ter hol­i­day break (Christ­mas and New Year’s), NCSS test­ing sched­ule, Full-Time Equiv­a­lent (FTE) count and the nine-week grad­ing pe­ri­ods,” Thomas said. “The com­mit­tee cre­ated a 20122013 cal­en­dar to meet the afore­men­tioned con­cerns and it re­quired school to be­gin on a Fri­day. In the 2011-2012 school year, the first day of school was on Thurs­day, Aug. 4, 2011. The cal­en­dar com­mit­tee worked very hard to meet the needs of students in New­ton County.”

In an email sent at the end of the day, Su­per­in­ten­dent Gary Mathews said the school sys­tem would continue to strive for for­ward progress.

“In this new 2012-13 school year, we look for­ward to con­tin­ued im­prove­ment of our stu­dent learn­ing out­comes. And we are con­fi­dent that our teach­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors are the right com­bi­na­tion for con­tin­ued progress.”

At the same time, he took a minute to look back at the ac­com­plish­ments of the past year, in­clud­ing:

Heard-Mixon El­e­men­tary be­ing named a Ge­or­gia School of Ex­cel­lence — one of 13 schools in the state to be rec­og­nized for the Great­est Gains in Con­gres­sional Dis­trict 8 for the past three years in read­ing and math­e­mat­ics. In­dian Creek Mid­dle: “2011 Ge­or­gia Break­out Mid­dle School” — one of 12 schools in the state to be so des­ig­nated by the Ge­or­gia As­so­ci­a­tion of Sec­ondary School Prin­ci­pals for the school’s aca­demic per­for­mance and school im­prove­ment ini­tia­tives. Al­covy High: “2011-12 AP Ac­cess & Sup­port School” — one of only 41 high schools in the state to have “at least 30 per­cent of their Ad­vanced Place­ment ex­ams taken by students who iden­ti­fied them­selves as African-Amer­i­can and/or His­panic and 30 per­cent of all AP ex­ams earn­ing scores of a col­lege-level 3 or higher. East­side High: “2011-12 Aca­demic Cham­pi­ons for State of Ge­or­gia in Class AAA” — sec­ond straight year. This com­pe­ti­tion com­prises two teams of four play­ers fac­ing off with each other on an en­tire spec­trum of ques­tions cov­er­ing many aca­demic dis­ci­plines much like Jeop­ardy. EHS de­feated St. Pius X for the cham­pi­onship. New­ton County School Sys­tem: Demon­strated im­prove­ment in seven of eight high school sub­jects tested by Ge­or­gia’s End-of-Course Tests. (Out­per­formed the state in five of eight high school sub­jects — first time.)

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