KINGSPORT — Did the planets and stars align correctly twice this week for a pre-Christmas calendar miracle?
Weeks shy of the mysterious Mayan calendar’s “end day” Dec. 21, nearly identical Kingsport and Sullivan County school calendars have emerged for the next academic year.
With little discussion, the city Board of Education Thursday night approved the 2013-14 school calendar starting with a full day Monday, Aug. 5.
In contrast to past years, where the calendar discussions would rage for hours overlapping different meetings culminating in a prolonged discussion, the city BOE vote Thursday night seemed to be nothing more than a formality.
The document, approved 4-0 with one absent, closely matches the Sullivan County calendar the county BOE approved Monday with identical fall and spring breaks and a close winter break.
Officials of both systems said that would help in operation of the two systems’ jointly operated Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee in Bloomingdale.
City Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said that aside from teachers and parents with ties to both systems and issues scheduling vacations, he’s heard that area church officials are happy with the nearly identical calendars since it would make scheduling mission trips during shared breaks much easier.
The county vote of 6-1 was based on a close but decisive choice of parents, teachers and support staff in surveys for the earlier start rather than one Aug. 12, the later start being more traditional for the county system.
County BOE member Todd Broughton of Bloomingdale voted no because of what he called mass opposition to the earlier start from teachers and parents in his district.
The city start date for students is a full day Aug. 5, with days off Sept. 2 for Labor Day, Sept. 13 for parent-teacher conferences, Oct. 14-18 for fall break, Nov. 27-29 for Thanksgiving, Dec. 23-Jan. 3 for winter break, Jan 20 for Martin Luther King Day, Feb. 7 for parent- teacher conferences and March 31-April 4 for spring break.
The last day of school, assuming four banked snow days are not exhausted, would be a half day Wednesday, May 21.
In comparison, the county calendar has a half-day Aug. 5 and schools will close Aug. 23 for the NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
However, county schools like city ones will be closed for Labor Day Sept. 2, Sept. 19 for parent-teacher conferences and Sept. 20 for teacher inservice, followed by fall break Oct. 14-18, the same as the city.
Likewise, Thanksgiving break is the same as the city’s, Nov. 27-29, with Christmas break starting Dec. 23 like the city but a later return Jan. 8, followed by school closed Jan. 20 for winter break, March 4 for inservice and March 31-April 4 for spring break, again matching the city.
The county schools will be closed April 18 for Good Friday, which the city is not, with the last county student day a half day May 22, one day after the last city student day. The county calendar has 10 snow days built into it.
News of the new city calendar went out on social media, including Facebook, shortly after the BOE vote. The system recently hired Marybeth McLain, formerly of the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce, as communications editor to work with school system spokesman and administrative coordinator Andy True.
The system is tweaking its communications to emphasize Facebook and Twitter posts.
“As soon as we said aye, they hit the button,” said city BOE Vice President Carrie Upshaw, who chaired the meeting in the absence of President Randy Montgomery.