The Albemarle County School Board approved the 2006-07 school calendar tonight which has a starting date of Monday, August 21, 2006.
Interestingly, if you support our starting school before Labor Day, you can thank three students from the City of Charlottesville. I'll come back to them in a moment...
I have spoken previously about the practice of annually applying for a pre-Labor Day waiver from the VA Department of Education (DOE) because of the Kings Dominion Law which says, in the Old Dominion, school starts after the amusement parks have declared Summer is over (See: The King/Queen of School Start Dates). For the past 10 years, we have gotten early start waivers approved because of our track record with bad weather. Lots of snow days leads to calendar flexibility. Seventy-nine of the state's 132 school divisions received waivers this year. However, our luck ran out on snow days this year, so we had to apply for a waiver under a provision related to school systems in cooperative programs. If one of your partners has bad luck with weather, you can piggy back off their waiver request.
Well, Albemarle thought we had it made because we participate in the Piedmont Regional Education Program (PREP), a regional program for special education services. Including Albemarle, there are 11 school divisions in PREP. Would you believe VA DOE told us we had to have at least one student at EVERY ONE of our 25 schools involved in PREP to qualify for the cooperative program waiver! Murray HS has no students receiving services from PREP. So we were 24 out of 25 schools towards our waiver request.
THEN, staff were able to identify ANOTHER connection back to one of our PREP partners, the City of Charlottesville. Thanks to three City students enrolled in the County's charter school, Murray High School, we were able to convince the VA DOE that we should be eligible for the waiver and thus be able to decide, on our own, the start date for Albemarle County Public Schools.
So... that is why I was able to cast my vote for a school calendar tonight. Thank you Charlottesville.