CCSD has been utilizing a “balanced calendar” for more than 15 years. The length of the school year itself has not changed, it is still 180 days of instruction, beginning August 1 (or the first Monday in August if that falls on a weekend) and augmented with five break periods throughout the year. The school year ends at or around Memorial Day, with June and July off. The calendar is reviewed every three years by an ad hoc committee that includes parent representation, and this committee continues to strongly recommend this format.
More than 70% of Georgia’s school districts started school the first week of August in 2018, and most utilize a balanced format.
The balanced calendar has many advantages:
- Periodic breaks (September, November, December, February and April) throughout the year are restorative for both students and staff and allow opportunity for remediation in February, rather than waiting until the end of the year.
- Having additional breaks throughout the year allows for maintenance work on buildings and buses to be completed with minimal disruption to instructional time and support services.
- The shorter summer (9 weeks for Cherokee County families) reduces knowledge retention issues for students.
- The earlier start allows for a full week at Thanksgiving, rather than the previous calendar’s three days, which better accommodates travel and time with family.
- The August 1 start allows the first semester to end in December, so students are not completing projects or studying for finals over winter break (which also aligns with college semester start and end times, a concern for dual enrolled high school students).
- The breaks allow students and staff to schedule routine appointments (doctor, dentist, orthodontist, etc.) or elective surgeries without having to miss class time or wait until the end of the school year.