MANATEE -- It’s official: Manatee County students will have a five-day Thanksgiving break next school year, from Nov. 19 to 23.
In addition, the district’s winter break will start on Christmas Eve and wrap up on Jan. 4, two days later than it ended this past winter break. As in years past, the school district’s spring break in 2013 will coincide with that of Sarasota County schools and State College of Florida and be held March 11-15.
The board’s final approval Monday of next year’s academic calendar follows months of meetings by a committee formed to pin down next year’s calendar. Having a five-day Thanksgiving break instead of a three-day break has long been a goal of the committee; it’s how several neighboring districts have been handling their Thanksgiving breaks for years.
District officials wanted to make the change after realizing that absentee rates skyrocketed during the two days prior to a three-day Thanksgiving break.
Aligning the school district’s spring break with other local educational institutions is important because many families have spouses who each work in different schools, said Harry Kinnan, school board chair.
Pinning down the academic calendar is more than just a routine task, said Mike Wilder, the district’s coordinator of school leadership.
“A lot of businesses require their employees to put in for vacation up to a year in advance, he said.
In other business, the board:
n Thanked three private citizens and 25 emergency, medical and law enforcement workers for their roles in responding to a Jan. 5 bus accident that injured 21 students and the bus driver. A school bus had rammed into a semi-truck along State Road 64 while transporting about 26 students.
Sammy Long, Andrew Fisher and Jesse Brown -- all employees of Clear Sunset Car Wash -- helped stop the bus, which had nonfunctioniong brakes because of the damage to its front end. The board honored the three men as well as employees of the Manatee County Department of Public Safety, the East Manatee Fire District, West Coast Southern Medical Services, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Blake Medical Center, Manatee Memorial Hospital, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, and the American Red Cross.
None of the students was severely injured; the bus driver was charged with reckless driving and suspended.
n Recognized 18 elementary, middle and high schools for raising $50,000 for the American Cancer Society. The top three fundraising schools were Lakewood Ranch High School, which raised more than $8,100; Nolan Middle school, which raised more than $6,300; and Braden River High School, which raised more than $5,100.
n Recognized the district’s high schools for earning $351,000 in state funds for graduates who earned industry certifications through career academies. Manatee County’s earned funds were almost twice as much as Sarasota County.
n Honored Schools Superintendent Tim McGonegal for being named Superintendent of the Year by the Florida Music Educators Association for his “ardent support” of music education in public schools.
Christine Hawes, Herald education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.