Franklin County students will be starting school a week earlier next year after the school board moved up their start date and pushed back their spring break.

W. Mark Church, the schools’ superintendent, said the purpose is to match other school districts’ spring break but have enough time for instruction before testing in May. “What we’re hoping to do is move our spring break to align it with spring break with other schools, including Roanoke City, so that we’re a little more aligned and it’s helpful for our students.”

All of the calendar’s changes will begin for the 2018-2019 school year.

One of the factors was for the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology, a school which some Franklin County High School students attend half-day.

“For our Governor’s School kids, their issue is Roanoke’s break was in April; we’re in March,” Church said.

When Franklin County has spring break in March, Governor’s School students still had to attend that school for half a day and vice-versa when the Governor’s school takes spring break in April, he said.

He added that a quarter of the school’s staff comes from Roanoke with their children going to Roanoke schools, causing the same scheduling problem.

With the revised calendar, 2019 spring break will be from April 15 to 22. Church believes that once students come back, it will still give them enough time to prepare for state testing in May.

“We’re really going to have to hustle to get the testing accomplished within that window, but the high school feels confidently that they can pull it off,” Church said.

Another change is that the school year will begin a week earlier in August. This past year students began on Aug. 14; they will begin on Aug. 8 for the 2018-2019 year.

“This year we pushed another week … which caused us the Christmas issue,” he said.

Students this year went to school all the way up to Dec. 22, but moving up the year’s start date will allow students to end the second quarter and begin their winter break the Wednesday before Christmas, which is Dec. 19. Students return to school on Jan. 2, 2019.

Board members also approved a teacher workday which will be on March 11, 2019. Students will be off this day so teachers can use that time to catch up and get their grades in, Church explained.

He added that graduation will remain the same.

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