Frederick County schools will start and end earlier in 2014-15

Posted: February 19, 2014

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Frederick County students will start the 2014-15 school year earlier and end it earlier.

The new calendar was adopted in a 5-1 vote at a county School Board meeting on Tuesday.

Chairman Stuart Wolk voted against the plan after expressing his desire that spring break be lengthened from three days to a week. Board member John Lamanna was absent.

The current school year began on Aug. 26 and is projected to end on June 13. The 2014-15 calendar will start on Aug. 18 and end on June 5 (or potentially at the end of May if no snow days are used).

The change allows the first semester to end before the winter break and keeps instruction from being interrupted by the holidays. The spring break will remain as three school days in the new calendar.

For employees who have scheduled vacations for the summer, Schools Superintendent David Sovine said they could potentially make up the time during the year.

Al Orndorff, assistant superintendent for administration, said many teachers expressed a desire for a shorter spring break, stating that a longer one would be detrimental to Standards of Learning preparation.

“This calendar provides the best opportunity for our students,” he said.

The calendar was devised by a large committee of teachers and staff members.

The board also held a public hearing on the fiscal year 2015 budget, which includes a school operating fund of $143.6 million — up from the current $134 million operating budget.

The plan allows for the implementation of full-day kindergarten in the fall ($1.7 million) and a salary initiative that would provide a one-step movement on the salary scales for all of the staff ($4.2 million).

Joy Kirk, president of the Frederick County Education Association, was the only person to speak during the hearing.

She said the 650 members of the organization were pleased with the budget, but added that the division still needs a competitive salary and benefits package.

“The reality for us is we are still behind,” she said.

Attending the meeting were Chairman Stuart Wolk, Vice-Chairman Benjamin Waterman and members Michael Lake, Jody Wall, Peggy Clark and Frank Wright. John Lamanna was absent.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com