Fulton takes step toward shorter school year

Fulton County school board members took a tentative step this week toward giving students five more days of summer as a recommendation to shorten the school year passed its first test.

The proposal — which would cut the school calendar next year to 175 days — is far from finalized, however. A vote Tuesday on the proposal’s first reading passed 6-1, but members sent it back to the system’s calendar committee for tweaks.

They will take another look at it next month, although final action is not expected for at least a month after that as the public vets the proposal. The lone dissenter, Linda Schultz, indicated a preference for Georgia’s standard school year of 180 days.

Members have also discussed opening the school year one to two weeks later than usual in August.

State lawmakers this year gave school systems the option to ditch the standard calendar as long as children spent the same amount of time in instruction for the year.

Two rural Georgia systems were the first this summer to embrace the change, which comes as the economy keeps its viselike grip on schools and the state slashes its public funding.

Fulton’s proposal, which would cut the five days by making each school day 11 minutes longer, is the first from a major metro Atlanta system, and a spokeswoman said officials wanted to find financial savings without hurting instructional programs.