Baldwin County school board revises next year’s calendar, adding extra summer weekend
The Baldwin County school board voted unanimously Tuesday to revise the 2015-16 calendar, adding an extra weekend to summer break.
The move pushed the start date from Thursday, Aug. 13 to Monday, Aug. 17.
Board Vice President Angie Swiger, who represents Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, said the revision was in response to requests by the business community.
“A lot of decisions we make here on the board not only affect the citizens of Baldwin County but also across the state,” Swiger said prior to the vote. “And I know a lot of people worked very hard to ask us to adopt a calendar with a later start date in years past and I feel like we should honor that work and consider a calendar with a later start date.”
The Board of Education first pushed the school system’s start date back one week during the 2010-11 school year, after being approached by the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, now known as Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. The move not only extended the busy beach tourism season, but aided businesses that rely on school system employees and students for seasonal labor.
Superintendent Robbie Owen said the initial calendar approved at the Jan. 15 meeting followed the state’s lead but he recognized the unique, tourism-based situation in Baldwin County.
He said the board understood that it was a “big deal to many business folks and the economy of Baldwin County.”
Swiger added that the later start not only helps the coastal communities but all of the county.
“We all rely heavily on the tourism and our retail all the way up through Spanish Fort and Fairhope,” she said.
The calendar change took away an off day on Oct. 13 as well as Jan. 6, which would’ve extended Christmas break. The new calendar also shifts a Feb. 10 professional development day, which would’ve extended Mardi Gras break for students to three days, to March 14.
The school board based its decision on a vote by system employees, who were given two options for the updated calendar. Out of system’s roughly 3,400 employees, 1,562 voted, according to the board’s special meeting agenda. The winning option received 1,050 votes. The second option, which would’ve made spring break a week earlier, March 21-25, only received 512 votes.
The revised calendar brings the 2015-16 school start date in line with this year’s starting point but it still adds four days to the end of the year. A half day for students on May 26 will close out 2015-16, while May 22 is the last day this year.
Barring any hurricanes during the 2015 storm season, students and teachers will see a longer Thanksgiving break than this year, with the entire week of Nov. 23-27 off. This year’s break was only three days, Wednesday through Friday.
The school system has set aside Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the 2015 Thanksgiving week as makeup days in the event a storm disrupts school. Dec. 21, the start of the Christmas break, also remain a hurricane makeup day.
Students will return from the Christmas break on Jan. 5, a Tuesday, which is also in line with this year’s schedule.