Catoosa County; delaying school year start has domino effect - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Catoosa County; delaying school year start has domino effect

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CATOOSA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -- Wednesday marks what student at Ringgold Middle and High Schools hope will be their last day of classes at cross-town rivals Heritage High and Middle Schools, their classroom home since the tornado struck April 27.

But the key to getting everybody back where they belong is giving all Catoosa County students a summer break three-and-one half weeks longer.

Every student wants a longer break," says Ringgold High junior Cameron Deitz. "It'll be a good thing."

"It means three more weeks of working at a job and at home," fellow senior-to-be Anna Dykes says.

Tuesday, Catoosa County's Board of Education voted to delay the start of the 2011-12 school year to September 6, to allow for repairs to Ringgold's schools.

Each school day will be fifteen minutes longer, to make up the difference.

"Seat time is based on minutes," Schools Operations Director Damon Raines says. "And there's a certain number of minutes that equalizes a course credit."

They're groaning already," Ringgold High math teacher Becky Gaston says. "But they're not gonna really notice, when they get in the classroom."

Four weeks to the day the EF-4 tornado hit, the district has no firm cost estimates for fixing Ringgold High and Middle Schools. Middle's lost two classroom wings. Eighth graders will move up to the high school.

The general contractor, Belfor, has pledged to have everything ready to occupy the end of July. But everybody expects to have 'punch lists' of last-minute fixes.

What's certain; football bleachers and sports facilities won't be ready.

"We practice basketball and volleyball during the summer," Dykes says.  "And it's just gonna be kind of hard to find a place that people will come practice and get ready for the season."

Getting ready for final exams won't be easy either. The revised schedule means first semester won't end until after Christmas break.

"That's gonna be harder because you get such a long break, and then you're relaxed, you have to come back and get right back into it," Deitz says.

"There could be some decline in scores," Raines acknowledges.

Dykes prefers to see it as a challenge.

"That just means kind of looking over what we've had to do in class and then carrying it over to the next week and a half," says the triple letter-woman (basketball-volleyball-track)," says Dykes. "We'll dominate the finals."

Math and science teacher Mike Hales shares the optimism; taking all factors into account.

"I couldn't think of a way that it could have been worked out that would have been better for all the students, as well as the teachers," says Hales.

Dykes sees it, as a way of making senior year, even more memorable.

"It'll just make us all a little bit closer, happier to be together," says Dykes.

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