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Students can celebrate an early start to their summer break this year.

The Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously Thursday to move the last day of school from June 19 to June 15.

“Our school calendar has three snow days built in, and due to very favorable weather this winter — I don’t know whether we even had winter this year — we only needed to use one of those three days,” said School Board member Ilryong Moon (At-large).

Rather than having the last day of school result in an early release, students on June 15 will attend a full day of classes under the change. Under the new calendar, teachers will have the following Monday and Tuesday as teacher work days.

“I believe that converting June 18 and 19 to teacher work days will be a better use of those two days,” Moon said. “They will provide teachers with much needed time to complete end of the year assignments, school improvement planning, teacher planning and collaborative team planning, and any other workload relief that can be accomplished in the schools.”

The School Board’s vote was supported by the Fairfax Education Association, an advocacy group for county educators.

“Changing the school calendar to convert two student days to two teacher work days at the end of the year is a great idea. … However, this found time should not mean piling on more data analysis and top-down management structures on our teachers,” said FEA representative Kimberly Adams, who addressed the School Board before the vote. “Having more time means that many teachers will actually be able to complete all their assigned tasks during contract hours including finalizing grade books to be handed in to administrators, filing student cumulative folders, packing up their classrooms, managing lesson plans for the next year …”

Superintendent Jack D. Dale said one of the two teacher work days will be dedicated to allowing teachers to finish up year-end work. The other day will include some in-school discussion about workplace conditions, Dale added.

School Board members said although most of the feedback they had received about early summer release was for the calendar shift, they also received some emails from parents who were concerned their children would be missing classroom time. Board members said Thursday that the school year is not being shortened, rather days that could have been lost because of snow were gained, and the number of school days would remain the same.

“This is a cost savings,” said School Board member Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield District). “This is not being done just to cut the school year short. I don’t want anyone to think this is a caviler decision.”

According to school system staff, Fairfax County Public Schools will save at a minimum $104,000 in fuel costs needed to bus students to school during those two days. None of the school employees — such as bus drivers, cafeteria workers or custodians — will lose pay because of the two-day cut to student classroom time, Dale said.

hhobbs@fairfaxtimes.com