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School calendar options proposed, alternate graduation sites discussed
School system tax abatements on table for economic development package
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Rockdale County Public Schools is looking at two very similar calendar options for the 2015-2016 school year with a difference of a few days in the start and end dates. The school system is also looking at alternative graduation sites for high school graduations in May 2015 in order to get a jump start on replacing the grass in all three high school stadiums with artificial turf.

The calendar options both have 180 instructional days for students and 190 days for teaching staff and will end the students' school year before the Memorial Day holiday in 2016. Holidays and intercession weeks would be the same in both options; intercession days (such as fall break, February break, spring break) would be subject to make up any inclement weather days through the year.

Option 1 would start the school year on Thursday, July 30, 2015, and end Wednesday, May 25, 2016.

Option 2 would start the school year on Monday, August 3, 2015, and end Friday, May 27, 2016.

A committee made up of principals from elementary, middle and high schools as well as parents and community members came up with the calendar options, said Chief Academic Officer Shirley Chesser.

A survey for the calendar options will be on the RCPS website, , starting Friday.


Alternate graduation sites

The school system is also looking at alternate sites to hold high school graduations in May 2015 in order to give enough time to replace the grass on the football stadium fields with artificial turf in time for the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

RCPS spokesperson Cindy Ball said a paper sheet with a link to a survey had been given out to seniors and a phone message had gone out to parents and seniors. The survey was open online Nov. 3-10. About 180 people replied. There are about 1,000 high school seniors in the school system.

Superintendent Richard Autry said the main concern expressed in the survey was the amount of seating and number of tickets available for relatives and the amount of parking available.

In Rockdale County, the only indoor venue with enough seating would be Springfield Baptist Church; outdoor venues with enough seating would include the Ga. International Horse Park.


Economic development

The issue of possible school tax abatements over five years for Acuity was brought up at Thursday night's meeting, at the request of the Conyers-Rockdale Economic Development Council, said school board Chairman Jim McBrayer.

McBrayer said CREDC Director Marty Jones had approached himself and Superintendent Autry with the idea.

"It was the joint response that in the interest of good community partnership the school system would be willing to further communications if the city, county and economic development team were all in favor," said McBrayer. "It was made clear this did not represent the Board of Education as a governing body."

Autry added, "I don't want to represent this board unilaterally. While we know we all are looking for funding streams, we also want to make sure growth and new growth is recognized as a quality of life issue for this community... If the city leadership, county leadership and Board of Education were all on board we could move forward for discussion."

School board member Mandy North asked if this abatement would be on all Acuity property in the county, including existing property. McBrayer and Autry replied it would be for new development, not existing property.

"We would be losing what we don't have right now," Autry said.

"Right now it's dirt," said board member Brad Smith. "In five years we'll collect tax on developed property which will be a lot more (than dirt)."

Autry added, "I appreciate the fact we were involved in the conversation. In my tenure that has not always been the case."



RCPS School Year Calendar 2015-16 Option 2
RCPS School Year Calendar 2015-16 Option 1