Parents petition Fort Mill schools for calendar with more weeks off
FORT MILL — Despite the school board giving approval to a calendar based on parental feedback, an online petition has amassed nearly 2,000 signatures from parents who said they want a different schedule.
Mom-of-two Rachel Fesko drew up the Change.org petition, which garnered its tally in nine days. Her goal is to have the Fort Mill School District Board of Trustees take another look at the calendar it passed for 2024-25.
The key difference, she said, is the schedule Fesko and other families want put some full weeks off in October and March.
“I’m fearing for burnout for the students, teachers and the parents,” said Fesko, who has two students at Tega Cay Elementary School. “What they passed isn’t what they showed us.”
Schools spokesman Joe Burke said the first version of the calendar was sent to parents in January, and they were polled on it. The administration used the feedback to design the version approved by the school board in May.
“We understand that no one calendar is ideal for everyone, but we believe this calendar best meets the needs of the students, staff and community,” Burke said in a statement. “We will continue to research and evaluate modified calendars moving forward and may make additional changes as part of our 2025–26 calendar.”
The first version sent to parents featured:
An Aug. 5, 2024, start date, with a May 29, 2025, end date.Vacation weeks for the third week of October 2024 and third week of March 2025.
The revised and approved version:
Starts the school year on Aug. 8, 2024, and ends on May 23, 2025.Eliminates the weeks off in October 2024 and March 2025.
Both versions place spring break at April 21-25, 2025.
The current school year started Aug. 21 and has spring break scheduled April 1-5.
The school district’s polling asked parents to respond positively, negatively or neutrally to questions about the earlier start date and the weeklong breaks. The majority of respondents said the Aug. 5 start date and the vacation weeks had “no impact” on them, with 72% of respondents saying they were neutral about that start date and 54% saying the same about the weeks off.
The negative vote percentage, 20.7%, was higher than the positive votes for the Aug. 5 start, at 4.1%. On the vacation weeks, 23.2% voted positively while 18.5% voted negatively.
Burke said the administration evaluated the poll as having a “low percent of positive response.”
One of the poll questions asked for “additional feedback” for the calendar. That one leaned 31% to 13.7% in favor of the first version, though nearly half of respondents left that section blank.
Burke also said the approved calendar gives Fort Mill synergy with the Rock Hill School District, as well as several others in South Carolina.
The school board meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. No agenda has been posted yet for its next meeting, Oct. 17.