GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – School could start and end a week earlier in Greenville County beginning in 2023, according to a new district proposal.
Greenville County Schools notified parents of the proposed change Thursday.
Under the new calendar, the next school year would begin August 8, 2023 and end May 22, 2024.
The 2024-25 school year would also begin August 8 but would end May 23.
The district said the change is to allow the academic semester to end before winter break, rather than when students return in January.
“The goal of that change is to align that academic semester so that is ends right when students get out for break which will be academically beneficial for our students,” said Whitney Hanna, Executive Director of Strategic Communications and Engagement, Greenville County Schools.
Districts in South Carolina are required to operate on a “year-round modified calendar” if they begin school before the third Monday in August.
The South Carolina Department of Education said that is where local school boards come into play. It’s members make the final decision on start and end dates for the school year when operating on this modification.
Greenville County Schools reassured parents that while they will be using a “year-round modified calendar,” they will still have a summer break and that the schedule will still be structured the same way as previous calendars.
“This calendar is in accordance with state law. It qualifies as a modified state calendar based on the start time. Students, of course, are attending earlier and getting out earlier. They still have a summer break and they are not attending year-round,” said Hanna.
State law does not define what a “year-round modified calendar” is.
A 2019 memo from the Superintendent of Education to South Carolina school districts stated that the Department of Education would not define “year-round modified calendar” except to say that school terms must be 190 days with 180 days of instruction.
One of the main requirements is that state testing is completed within a certain time frame.
“Students will take their finals and exams and any testing before they leave for winter break so they won’t need to spend time preparing for winter break for those exams and schools won’t have to make the choice of potentially testing before winter break and losing any of those instructional days after the winter break,” said Hanna.
The change would impact families, like mother-of-two, Kensley Boyd.
“This year, it’s not ideal,” said Kensey Boyd, Greenville County parent.
Boyd has two children enrolled in elementary school in Greenville County. She shared her thoughts with us after learning about the proposal.
“It definitely shortens the summer and makes that August time frame, which is kind of crunch zone anyways, a little difficult,” said Boyd. “We have camps planned. We have vacations planned. We have different things that are planned within those first two weeks of August before school starts.”
“If this calendar were to be finalized, our plan would be to work with individual families that have documented conflicts prior to the release of the calendar. We want to work with families as best we can to whatever benefit to our students and our families,” said Hanna.
While the change, if approved, may be challenging for some parents this this upcoming year, Boyd believes the proposal would help her kids academically.
“I want to position my kids for academic success,” said Boyd. “I would absolutely love for them to be able to have a set break where they don’t feel like they are having to study through what should be a break for them through the holidays.”
Parents are encouraged to give feedback on the new calendars by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org before December 1.
The calendar committee plans to release a final schedule for the following school year before winter break this December.