In other action, the school board:
Meeting set for Bluffton parents on grade structure changes
A community meeting set for next week will give parents, teachers and the public more information about possible changes to Bluffton area middle and high school grade structures in the 2013-14 school year.
Overcrowding at Bluffton Middle School and H.E. McCracken Middle School is prompting the discussion. Sixth- and seventh-graders currently attend Bluffton Middle, and eighth- and ninth-graders attend McCracken, a system put in place two years ago to address crowding issues at Bluffton High School.
The meeting will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 29 in the Bluffton High auditorium.
A community committee will be formed to research short- and long-term solutions for the crowding issues, and should report its findings in March.
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The 2013-14 school year will end in June, include a full week's break for Thanksgiving and a two-week break in the winter.
The Beaufort County Board approved the calendar changes at its Tuesday meeting after debating between two options at meetings earlier this month.
The approved calendar puts the first day of school at Aug. 19. There will be a weeklong break for Thanksgiving, and the winter break begins Dec. 23 and lasts two weeks. School resumes Jan. 6.
Spring break, which unlike this school year will be the same across the county, will be April 14 through 18. The last day of school, a half-day, will be June 5.
The calendar won out over another option that had shorter Thanksgiving and winter breaks but put the last day of school on May 29.
Two school improvement council chairs -- chairwoman Michel Claudio from Red Cedar Elementary and recently elected school board member Evva Anderson, who is chairwoman of the council at Bluffton Middle -- spoke in favor of the calendar the school board ultimately approved. Several board members said they, too, had heard from parents and school staff members who favored the longer holiday breaks.
According to data from an e-mail survey conducted Monday and Tuesday, 115 of the 145 educators and parents who responded favored the calendar that ended in June.
The school board delayed vote after a lengthy discussion at the Saturday session drew no consensus -- from either current or newly elected members.
Interim superintendent Jackie Rosswurm said it was the first time in recent years that there was no clear winner between calendar proposals.
"There are real pluses and minuses (to both)," she said. "Either way, we're going to have a good calendar.
The calendar was approved Tuesday on a 9-1 vote. Board member Steven Morello was absent. Board member Ron Speaks voted against the calendar, saying he thought the five days of school in June were likely to be wasted academically.
But several school board members said longer breaks -- rather than a few two-day weeks around holidays -- were needed.
"Every once and awhile, you need a break," vice-chairman George Wilson said. "A whole week of down time before you go back is enough to get charged up as opposed to just having the turkey and coming right back."