Parents, students, staff and community members will get their chance to weigh in on the options for school calendars proposed for the upcoming year.

At Monday night’s McDowell County Board of Education meeting, Superintendant Mark Garrett showed three surveys, each designed for students, staff and the community. The calendar committee met for the second time on Dec. 19 where they looked over the Department of Public Instruction’s 2014 exam results versus the year round end-of-grade testing in grades third through eighth.

“You get mixed results. Of the schools that were involved in year round in the 2014 testing schedule did better on an average of eight to nine points in each category,” said Garrett.

In the survey, participants will have two options to pick from—the current calendar model which entails three different calendars (traditional, Eastfield Global Magnet School, McDowell Early College), or a seasonal calendar, or modified year-round calendar, that would be applicable to all participating schools.

“We know we can’t ask enough questions to hit every situation. Folks can view the calendars, take the survey and then write their own comments or questions. It is set up to where you can take the survey only one time,” said Garrett.

Garrett said he has spoken in person to several groups of students and individuals to get input, and he will be presenting the calendar options to the Marion Rotary Club on Thursday. The surveys will be up for a couple of weeks to give folks ample time to voice their opinion, support or concerns. Once the surveys are tallied, the calendar committee will meet again to come up with a recommendation possibly by the Feb. 13 meeting.

“We are trying to present it as balanced. The big thing to me is it has been coming up in the community for the past several years and we need to decide to do it, or not to do it so we can move on,” Garrett said.

Click here to take the survey, or visit www.mcdowell.k12.nc.us for more information.

Readers sounded out in an online poll at www.mcdowellnews.com on the calendar choices. The poll posed the question, “After viewing a copy of calendar options for the 2017-2018 school year, which one do you like the best.” There were 261 votes for the seasonal calendar, 230 votes for the traditional calendar and 70 votes for Eastfield’s calendar.

Many of our readers commented that a seasonal calendar would affect many summer camps, such as marching band or sports. Other parents are concerned about child care options. In support of the seasonal calendar, advocates say that students retain more information, and test scores could improve.