Back to class in Fayette

It’s that time again.

Fayette County’s public schools will open their doors Aug. 7 for the 2014-2015 school year, which will see changes in the school day for middle and high schools.

The school year will include a new fall break and a two-day winter break.

Elementary schools will begin the day at 7:40 a.m. and will run until 2:25 p.m.

Start and end times for middle and high schools were adjusted to help school buses run their routes more efficiently. Middle school will start five minutes earlier at 8:10 a.m. and will release five minutes earlier at 3:10 p.m. High school will begin 10 minutes earlier at 8:35 a.m. and will release at 3:45 p.m.

New in this year’s 180-day school calendar is a fall break for students Oct. 13-14 and a two-day winter break Feb. 16-17. Thanksgiving break, Christmas break and spring break are the same as previous years.

Budget issues last year resulted in the elimination of a number of parapros. This school year a total of 39 paraprofessionals have been hired, with elementary schools are gaining two per school. Individual schools will decide how to best use the additional assistance, school officials said.

New this year is a change in student testing, specifically the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) in grades 3-8 and the End of Course Tests (EOCT) in high school. Both are being replaced by the state’s new testing system, Georgia Milestones. In addition to multiple-choice questions, Milestones will include open-ended questions that will be scored similarly to the scoring process used on Advanced Placement exams. Each open-ended question will be judged independently by two scorers and sent to a third for adjudication if the first two do not give the student’s work the same score.

There is also a change this year pertaining to food sold at schools during the school day. Food items now have to meet certain nutrition requirements, according to the new “Smart Snack” federal school nutrition standards that went into effect July 1. These new standards impact what foods are sold to students from the start of school until 30 minutes after dismissal. Parents can still send any food items of their choosing with their child and/or to the classroom for special occasions as long as the food is not sold to students.

The school system ended the 2013-2014 school year with 20,243 students enrolled. New enrollment figures should be available before the end of August.

For more information on the Fayette County School System visit