County schools to keep two-week fall break

Xavier Smith • Nov 6, 2017 at 9:09 PM

Wilson County Schools will have a two-week fall break during the 2018-2019 school year after the Wilson County school board unanimously approved the calendar during Monday’s monthly meeting.

The board approved the current calendar last year, with member Wayne McNeese casting the lone “no” vote. Monday, board members, including new board member Gwynne Queener, joined McNeese in support of a two-week fall break.

Board member Tom Sottek said he leaned toward a two-week fall break based on K12 Insights survey results, which showed most teachers overwhelmingly supported a two-week fall break as opposed to one week.

Three options were presented on the survey. The most popular one, option 2, offered a two-week fall break with a five day Thanksgiving break. The second most popular option, option one, offered a one-week fall break and a one week Thanksgiving break.

“The driver in what I hear – and where my heart is – is with the teachers, right now, because they really want their two-week fall break. That’s the one thing they told me when I came onto the board,” said Sottek, who said the survey results showed a “toss up” among parents on the issue.

Sottek also challenged district and school leaders to find a way to keep the two-week fall break in the future in a way that does not hinder academic instruction.

“Academically, we need to make sure we remain competitive,” Sottek said.

Sottek and board member Linda Armistead discussed academics during their comments, as Armistead pointed to the state’s reluctance to reduce the amount of testing in public schools, particularly in high schools.

Last year, board members said they favored a one-week fall break for several reasons, including lost instruction time, number of disadvantaged students and more. However, they also said they would use survey results to make a final decision regarding the calendar.

The group also urged Monty Wilson, Wilson County Schools deputy director of academics, to survey the calendar committee, which hasn’t met since last year.

“There has been a change from what was originally recommended to the board of education by that committee based on the information they received. Now, you can see 56 percent of the committee members would favor keeping a two-week fall break. That’s almost an exact mirror of the [K12 Insight] survey,” said Wilson, who noted 54 percent of parents supported a two-week fall break. 

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