The Atlanta school board Tuesday scaled back its proposal for weeklong fall and winter breaks, instead recommending three-day breaks that would make it easier for parents to find child care.
Students in Atlanta Public Schools would have three days off surrounding Columbus Day in October and also around Presidents Day in February, according to a proposal scheduled for a vote March 4.
The revised school calendar would closely mirror the current school year, with school starting the first Monday in August and ending before Memorial Day.
A previous proposal would have stretched the school year to the end of May and added full weeks off in fall and winter, in addition to existing Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring breaks.
Changing the school year has incited parent anger in neighboring school districts, including DeKalb and Cobb counties, where parents balked at the idea of a shorter summer break.
“Many working parents are very concerned about being able to find child care during those breaks. Not everyone can take a week’s vacation in the middle of the fall,” said Cynthia Briscoe Brown, parent of a high school junior and a past president of North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools.
School board members and Superintendent Erroll Davis also said they were concerned that companies that provide services such as remediation classes and academic enrichment activities during school breaks might have a hard time extending those services for a full week.
“If we’re going to have weeklong breaks, we need to have academically rich child care options for those parents,” school board Chairman Reuben McDaniel said. “It’s easier to find options for three days than for five days.”
Davis noted that more students tend to miss school during partial weeks, when their families may be inclined to take vacations surrounding the days off. But, he said, the school district needs to be able to provide support services if students have five straight days off.
The board said it intends to give additional study to a shorter summer break, longer breaks in fall and winter and a later end of school before considering whether to enact such a plan in future school years.
These are key dates in the proposed Atlanta Public Schools calendar for 2013-14.
Aug. 5: First day of school
Oct. 10-14: Fall break (wraps around a weekend)
Nov. 25-29: Thanksgiving break
Dec. 23-Jan. 6: Semester break
Feb. 13-17: Winter break (wraps around a weekend)
April 7-11: Spring break
May 23: Last day of school