How can a simple calendar create so many worries, complaints?

Published 8:51 am Friday, January 31, 2020

Have you ever tried to plan a vacation?

There’s first finding the location, the attraction and then there’s the type of travel and the route.

If driving, you need to plan out where to stop, hotels to stay and where to eat.

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But, before you even leave the house, you have to pack a suitcase or four, pack the suitcases for the children and then there’s the snacks, games and entertainment that somehow must be included in every trip in the car, even those heading four blocks to church on Sunday.

All of this work, planning and cost, just to relax. It’s stressful just thinking about it.

Now, apply that level of planning, stress, cost and predicting to a school year calendar when the current school year has just recently passed the halfway point.

That is what staff and administration at the Vicksburg-Warren School District must do each year when planning the next year’s calendar.

Going into it, they know not everyone will be happy with what is proposed and adopted. You have thousands of children, with hundreds of staff, teachers and administrators, plus all the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who live and breathe with the calendar that is adopted.

The complaints will always be there; school is starting too early, it’s still going to be cold on spring break, we need a few more days before Christmas, the last day of school is too late.

But the calendar is just one aspect of the process. It’s easy; the days of the week and the dates on the calendar were figured out a few hundred years ahead of time.

Instead, planners must worry about the number of days children are in school, scheduling those wonderful state-mandated testing periods, coordinating those blessed 63 percent days parents always cherish and working around a laundry list of state and federal holidays. At this point, how is Groundhog Day not a federal holiday? Just asking.

Planners must also begin preparing everything that goes along with the calendar. Departments must start focusing on food for breakfasts and lunches. Those charged with curriculum must begin looking ahead to programs, courses and support materials. Those charged with the transportation of our children, must start looking at the district’s current fleet of buses, needed maintenance and evaluating if — not when — new buses need to be added to the fleet.

The calendar, like I said, is the easy part.

And, then there is the coordination at some level with Vicksburg Catholic Schools and Porter’s Chapel Academy on when spring break will fall. We all remember the year those schedules were off. I still get chill bumps at the horror.

All of this is to say, give the district a break. You and I have a hard enough time making sure a weekend away from the house does not end in disaster because we forgot something at home. The district’s staff and administration must pull off a high-wire act of planning many of us outside of the military could not ever imagine.

Each decision has a ripple effect and each decision can be praised or cursed; and they often are.

When it comes to our children and their education, we have high expectations, but not nearly as high as those who work for the district have for themselves.

So, with all of that said, do we really need that many 63 percent days? Asking for a friend.

Tim Reeves is editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at tim.reeves@vicksburgpost.com.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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