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Atlanta schools plan to start later next year

Summer break could get a bit longer for Atlanta students.

The Atlanta school board on Tuesday tentatively approved calendars for the next three years that call for school to start on the second Monday in August, more than a week later than recent years.

This year, Atlanta Public Schools began classes on Aug. 1  and will end the school year May 24.

But the new calendar moves the first day to Aug. 12 and the last day to May 22.

In 2020, the first day would be Aug. 10. In 2021, the first day would be Aug. 9.

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The trade-off? Because of the later start date, APS would shorten what have been weeklong breaks for students in the fall and winter into four-day weekends.

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This year, students have Oct. 8-12 off, with teachers using two of those five days for training. Students also have another week off in the winter, Feb. 18-22, and again teachers are in training for two of those days.

Under the proposed 2019-2020 calendar, students would have just two days off in October, Oct. 14 and Oct. 15. Teachers would use Oct. 15 as a training day. Students also would have Feb. 17 and 18 off, with teachers in training on Feb. 18.

The proposed calendars for the next three years still give students a full week off at Thanksgiving; two weeks off at the semester break, during the Christmas and New Years holidays; and a week off in April for spring break.

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen told board members that administrators came up with the new schedule after conducting an online survey that got more than 11,000 responses.

“We reduced the number of breaks in the school year so we could put in more professional learning and at the same time also start the school year a little later but still end at that Memorial Day time frame,” she said.

The school board must still give final approval before the calendars are adopted.

It wasn’t just APS that started school on Aug. 1 this year. Cobb, Cherokee and Decatur students also started that day, while Gwinnett, Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton students returned Aug. 6.

A state senate committee, meanwhile, will review how school districts’ different calendars impact tourism and whether starting school later is possible. It will issue a report by Dec. 1. Some in the travel industry have advocated for a more uniform approach across Georgia for when to start school.

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