Proposed FCPS ’24-’25 calendar presented

Published 12:24 pm Thursday, February 8, 2024

The Franklin City School Board was given a look Thursday, Jan. 18, at the initial draft of the proposed academic calendar for Franklin City Public Schools’ 2024-25 school year, a draft which transitions half-day Fridays to whole days and also shortens the school day for elementary school students.

FCPS Director of Operations Dr. Clint Walters, who presented the proposed calendar, said that key factors considered in its formulation were as follows:

  • compliance with standards of accreditation in terms of seat hours;
  • feedback indicating the effectiveness of the four-day work week in recruiting and retaining quality staff; and 
  • feedback indicating that the existing instructional day for the division’s youngest learners is too long.

As he began sharing details of the proposed calendar, Walters noted that FCPS would continue to have three days of new teacher orientation in August, and school would start after Labor Day.

The calendar maintains the week off at Thanksgiving and two weeks off for winter break. 

Walter also drew attention to two student holidays/staff workdays — Jan. 30 and Jan. 31.

“As a recovering high school teacher, I can tell you that it is important that we keep those days at the end of January — those are sacred days because (they allow) teachers to close out one semester and prepare for the upcoming semester,” he said. “So we wanted to make sure that we had ample time for our secondary teachers to do just that.”

He indicated that because Easter comes quite late next year, spring break would be from April 14-18, and the last day of school would be June 13.

“One of the things that you may notice when you look at the calendar is we don’t have the half-day Fridays in our proposed calendar,” Walters said. “What we’re going to do is we’re going to reclaim that instructional time, and considering that, still being thoughtful about how we can provide teachers with professional development.”

But he noted that the proposed calendar does still offer Wellness Fridays.

“It also, therefore, offers the opportunity for Enrichment Fridays where we can continue to provide targeted assistance to our students who need that extra remediation or stretching for other enrichment opportunities,” he said.

He explained how concerns about the length of the instructional day at S.P. Morton Elementary School were addressed and why the day has been so long.

“Elementary school students are in school for a very long time,” he said. “That is more a product of operations than instruction, in full transparency, because our bus drivers are doing runs for the high school, they’re also doing runs for the elementary school, so we don’t have a large enough fleet where we can operate simultaneously. So we’re having to accommodate the elementary school after we have accommodated the high school.

Arwen Councill

“That being said, when we change the half-day Fridays to whole days, and understanding that we already have a lot of banked time, we are able to shorten the school day by 40 minutes and still have a pretty significant bank of time when we compare the current school year to the upcoming proposed calendar for the school year,” he said.

The school day at the elementary school runs from 8:20 a.m.-4 p.m. during the current school year, and it would run from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. for the 2024-25 school year with the proposed calendar in effect.

Ward 2 Board Member Arwen Councill asked if the later start would save some students from being tardy, and SPM Interim Principal Angela Fair said, “I do believe it will make a difference.”

Ward 4 Board Member and Vice Chair Cristina Boone asked if the school division will continue providing Before Care, noting that some parents have to be at work at 8 a.m., which means they leave their homes shortly after the school bus picks up their children under the existing schedule.

Cristina Boone

“That will definitely be something for us to consider, and I’ll have a better answer for that, Ms. Boone, at our next meeting,” Walters said.

Among points to consider for the proposed schedule at FHS, Walters noted that planners are not able to make any significant changes to the high school start time and end time, which is 7:20 a.m.-3:15 p.m. 

“Even when we reclaim those Fridays and convert them from half days to whole days, we only have 81 instructional days for the first semester and 82 days for the second semester,” he said. “So, keeping in mind that we have to have 140 seat hours to award credit, this will only provide us with 8½ (banked) hours for the first semester and then 10⅓ (banked) hours for the second semester.

“There are still some ideas that are floating on how we might be able to adjust with this, but we’ve just experienced a need to amend our calendar because of inclement weather,” he added. “So we feel like it is important to try to plan ahead and provide just a little bit of a cushion if we can help it.”

In his presentation, Walters outlined the following next steps that will be taken in reference to the proposed 2024-25 school calendar:

  • Solicit feedback from families, staff and community members regarding the proposed calendar via a survey;
  • Reconvene the Calendar Committee to consider the feedback provided and propose any changes to the calendar; and 
  • Solicit a vote from the board by the regularly scheduled February school board meeting.