Cobb County Schools Consider Later Start Date

The Cobb County School District is considering moving the starting date from August 10 to August 17 for the Fall 2009 school year.  Many are asking where the extra five days are going to come from.  The state mandates at least 180 days of instruction.  State school Superintendent Kathy Cox has said calendars are a local decision. A bill to require a later start date for all public schools failed in the state Legislature in 2005.

Time for standardized tests has to be factored in, along with time for state high school graduation tests. Teacher work days, Advanced Placement exams and block scheduling also must be considered.  Many districts are now off the week of Thanksgiving. In the past, schools had high rates of absenteeism on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. Absentee rates are monitored and used with test scores to determine if public schools comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.  According to some board members, it’s possible for the district to start school later than other metro districts and still finish the first semester before the holiday break. But a later start date could mean:

  • A shorter break at Thanksgiving. Currently, students have the entire week off
  • A delayed start to the holiday break. Most districts are off the entire week of Christmas, which falls on a Friday this year

In addition to the later start date, Cobb school board member John Crooks wants the school year to end before Memorial Day. And many, including Crooks, contend the first semester should be completed before the winter holidays.

“I think it’s fair to students, especially high school students, that they have a winter break. A clean break,” said Sanderson, Cobb’s superintendent.

Paulding County plans to start on Aug. 17, but the first semester won’t be completed until January, according to district spokesperson Sharon Roper.

While many metro districts will start the 2009-10 school year on the same day, the last day of school varies, based on such factors as the number of student holidays and teacher planning days. Some districts have a week off for Thanksgiving, and some have a week-long break in mid-February.

2009-2010 School Start and End Dates

District First day Last day

Atlanta                       Aug. 10       June 4
Cherokee                   Aug. 3         May 28
Clayton                      Aug. 10       May 28
DeKalb                      Aug. 10        May 21
Fayette                      Aug. 10        May 28
Forsyth                     Aug. 10         May 28
Fulton                       Aug. 10        May 21
Gwinnett                  Aug. 10        May 26
Marietta                   Aug. 10        May 21
Paulding                   Aug. 17        June 4