Ga. Sup’t. Kathy Cox weighs in against shortening school year


State School Superintendent Kathy Cox is worried about state budget cuts that would result in a shorter required school year.

A large portion of the state budget, more so than any other department, goes to education.

“It is unrealistic to think that you can truly retain 180 days of quality instruction for students if all 10 days of pre- and post-planning for teachers are cut,” Cox said.

“Expecting teachers to begin and end a school year on the same day students do is like a restaurant manager asking staff members to show up at the same time the first customer is to be served,” Cox said.

“That manager knows that if dinner service starts at 5 you better be willing to pay your chef to come in for preparation a few hours earlier. And when have you ever seen the staff leave the restaurant at the same time as the last customer? That restaurant would not be successful. Similarly, teachers need preparation time to be successful,” Cox said.

That position was essentially echoed recently by a Fayette County School System committee charged with looking at the number of days per school year and whether the current 180-day school year should be altered.

Assistant Superintendent Sam Sweat told board members that the committee recommended that Fayette schools continue with a 5-day per week, 180-day school year.

Cox in her statement last week also went beyond the number of days in the school year, adding that more cuts to school funding would have a negative impact on public education.

“I believe there is a need for clarification about the Department of Education’s position regarding the state budget,” Cox said. “I maintain that drastic and severe cuts hurt teachers and students and negatively impact the progress we have made in recent years.

“If there are further cuts to QBE (school system funding) then we can’t expect things to be business as usual. While we fully recognize the severity of our revenue shortfall, we are not in favor of additional cuts to public K-12 education,” Cox said.

“I appreciate the diligence of the legislators and the seriousness of their exploration of all the issues and all the options. We will continue to work with them to find the best solution for our state,” Cox said.