Moving back the start of school!

Sat, 06/21/2008 - 8:17am
By: fluffybear

I just saw a story about Kathy Cox proposing an idea to push the start of school back even further in August. As I understand this, this is so scores from retesting of our kids could be submitted to federal officials and prove our kids were meeting at least minimum standards. Starting school in mid-August does not allow time for these new scores to collected and submitted.

I have several issues with this so let's start with moving the school year to the end of August.

From my own personal experience, I grew up in a system which started the day after Labor Day and ended right around Memorial Day. Somewhere around the first weeks of August, I started to get bored. We also never had long holiday breaks and that is something I wish we had as just maybe more of my family would have gotten together.

The most obvious - If we move the start of the school year back 2 weeks then we either have to push the end of school back 2 weeks (to mid-June) or those 2 weeks have to be taken from somewhere in the year.

As I understand it (please correct me if I am wrong) but those standardized tests can only given after a number of class days have passed (let us just say for fun, 150 of the 180 class days). If all we do is push back the start of school then all we did was delay those tests for 2 weeks!
I'm sorry, I am just a dumb engineer but are we not in the same boat? The only way for this to work would be to have the tests at the same time and that means taking 10 vacation days away during the year. So, where do you want to lose them?

We should not be relying on new test scores in order to prove to federal officials our kids meet the minimum education standards. Our kids should meet those standards the very first go around. If our state leaders feel this is acceptable, we have a serious problem (& it isn't with our children).

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Submitted by Mrs_L on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 12:31pm.

Fluffybear, I am a school bus driver and I am ALL FOR moving the start of the new school year BACK to after Labor Day! The reason for that is because of the heat on un-airconditioned buses. Do you realize that we bus drivers spend an average of 5 hours each day on those hot buses. The temperatures on the buses with windows closed in AUGUST is 118 to 120 degrees on the INSIDE of the buses. When windows are lowered the temps will drop to around 115. When moving, temp will drop to around 100. This is hazardous to the drivers health as well as the students who ride these buses. NO ONE wants to understand that it's EASIER to drive a bus safely for a couple of weeks in June than it is for the entire month of August. August is the hottest month in the State of Georgia. We use diesel fuel for the buses. The fuel evaporates faster and puts more pollutants into our already unhealthy drought-stricken, stagnated air. It's UNHEALTHY and to be quite frank, it's downright DANGEROUS!!! I will do everything within my power including documenting daily the temperatures on the inside of our buses through a typical school day throughout the month of August into September and I will submit it to whomever I have to stop this insanity of starting school in August. I will even consider taking it to OSHA as it is an occupational hazard on us drivers who are entrusted with transporting precious children. And then if something happens the blame and lawsuits come back on us drivers! No one ever stands UP for the school bus drivers or what we have to deal with in our occupation. It's always about the students, test scores and what our government wants when it should be about transporting our future SAFELY! What is it going to take? The heat stroke of a driver or student and a serious accident to happen before anyone opens their eyes to this issue??? Our climate is changing. Our weather is more severe and temperatures soar in August. August is the middle of SUMMER. It's not Autumn when school should be starting! It's high time parents, students, teachers, administrative staffs of schools, and our local and state government officials start noticing this issue NOW before a something does happen not AFTER the fact!

Submitted by fluffybear on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 1:42pm.

And that 2 weeks is going to make all the difference in the world, right?? According to Accuweather, July is the hottest month in Fayetteville, Georgia and there is only a 2 degree difference (average temp) between August 11 and September 6th so I really do not see an issue. If you showed me a 20 degree I might agree but 2, sorry!

Second, You openly admit you spend 5 hours a day driving the bus and let's be honest with one another, half of that time is early in the morning and it is rather pleasant and quite comfortable. In reality we are only talking about 2 to 2.5 hours a day. Given 3 to 4pm is the hottest time of the day but still is only 2 hours.

Last, There are school districts operating all over the USA on a year round schedule and many of these places know what heat really is. Georgia has nothing on places like Arizona, New Mexico, the Inland Empire (California) when it comes to heat. These are places where it is a triple digits at 4:00am in the morning. You would think these issues you bring up would have already been addressed in these states. After all, most of these states tend to average 15 to 20 degrees hotter then it is here? I know, It is a non-issue!

Heat Stroke!?!? If you are prone to heat stroke in 90 degree weather, I don't want you behind the wheel of a bus, automobile, or golf cart! Come and talk to me when the record high for the month of August (Fayetteville, GA) is 111 not 101. BTW, Record high for September was 103 and that was around September 18th. Oh No! That's 2 weeks later then you want to start school. Maybe we should push it back to October 1st.

Submitted by Dondol on Sat, 06/21/2008 - 9:48am.

You want to find a place to for 10 days take away the Fall/Winter break and there is your 10 days. I have 2 children in Fayette county schools and have been since they started school. I spend a good bit of time in and around the schools and get to talk with the teachers. Everyone of them say that they would rather go back to the old schedule and do away with the Fall/Winter break. They say that the breaks are to disruptive and it takes about a week to get the kids back into the routine of school. The reason given when this all started was so that the Teachers would have a better chance to attend summer classes to further their degrees. But all that I have heard is that they don't have time now that they only have 8 weeks of summer. Kathy Cox is just doing whatever she can right now to CYA and she knows that this will get some of the heat off of her for the time being.

Submitted by fluffybear on Sat, 06/21/2008 - 11:58am.

Just as I said, we would have to do away with 10 vacation days.
I have my doubts that kids taking off a couple of days here and there is all that disruptive.

When exactly is the FALL Break, I can not seem to find it on the calendar. Do you mean Thanksgiving break? That is only 3 additional days. Winter break is only 4 additional days (it does follow a federal holiday) so where are the other 3 days. I know, How about we make the kids go to school on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day?

I also know from my own experiences and speaking with teachers in other states that many would prefer this type of system. I fully understand your argument about teachers furthering their education and might agree if it were not for the ability to attend classes during the evening or online.

As for 8 weeks of summer vacation, Boo Hoo! I wish I got 8 weeks off during the summer..

Submitted by heatjam on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 12:52pm.

For the 2008-2009 school year the fall break has been taken out, as have the 1/2 days.

Submitted by Split Decision on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 5:41pm.

were such a joke and wasted so many resources! Every year the BOE had their surveys they wanted FC residents to fill out, and every year I voiced the same sentiment regarding how wasteful those Early Release Days were.

I feel sure the Administration of each school in the county is ecstatic that they won't have to spend 6 weeks leading up to the early release day printing fliers and sending those reminders home, telling the students, putting notices all over their buildings, etc. I'm so thankful they FINALLY did away with them!!!!

The Fall Break was basically the week of Thanksgiving. I do feel like the Winter Break is ridiculous - taking a week off during the middle of February when everyone has finally gotten settled into the routine after the Christmas break doesn't make sense. Oh well, at least the those half days are history! Smiling

Submitted by fluffybear on Fri, 06/27/2008 - 5:51pm.

Looking at 2007 calendar, I only see 2 half days. What's the big deal? Growing up, I remember having a lot more then that. Typically you would see 4 or 5 days a semester which were called parent-teacher conference days.

As for the winter break, I have no experience with it but I kind of like the idea. It allows me to take some time off and go somewhere during the off season. You have to take a second mortgage out to go Disney World during the summer but go in the off season and we can go to Universal and Sea World too..

Submitted by fluffybear on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 1:48pm.

When was this Fall Break exactly? I do not see it on a 2007-2008 calendar.

If we are speaking of the extra time off at Thanksgiving (I am use to just 2 days off not 5), it is still there. I do not see half days mentioned but those could be announced during the year.

Submitted by Split Decision on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 5:49pm.

have been on the calendar in past years. Unless something very out of the ordinary happens, they won't be added since they aren't on the calendar at this time. (Thank goodness Smiling)

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Sun, 06/22/2008 - 7:37am.

I'm all in favor of a more traditional schedule of end of August to the first week of June. A solid block of 3 months off gives the teachers other job and training opportunities and gives students a chance to even work, something that-believe it or not-some teens in Fayette actually do! You also save big bucks not having to cool all the buildings down in August when the temps are 95 degrees.

Getting rid of the "winter break" is the first step. Lobbying your pols to change the state's requirement of 180 days of instruction is the bigger issue and dropping it to around 170-175 as other states(ranked much higher than GA have done). Anyone who has schoolchildren knows that there are several days of absolute "do nothing" during the school year that aren't necessary on a school schedule. While it sounds "bad" that a poorly-ranked state like GA would actually decrease school days, that's something that is best left up to individual school districts and their needs. 180 isn't some kind of magic number for producing well-educated students.

Submitted by fluffybear on Sun, 06/22/2008 - 12:39pm.

Not sure on this one (correct me if I am wrong) but isn't that 180 days some kind of Federal guideline?

I may go with taking away the 'Winter break' and finishing the school year the Friday before Memorial Day (as it should be). I hated going back to school for those couple of extra days (and might add parents hated it as well) but that should be the extent of it.

The problem with leaving it to individual school districts is someone is going to complain, "My kid went to school for only 170 days and that is why he got a 'D'" or "Kids in County go for only 180 days and my kids over here have to go for 210 days, why are our teachers so lazy? Let's call the ACLU and sue!" Districts will spend more money on lawyers and having to defend themselves then it is worth.

The real problem with Kathy Cox's proposal is it basically doing nothing more then an excuse for poor performance on the part of our students, teachers, and parents. I'm sorry but maybe we need to hold more kids back. This is our future and let's us not forget that we need them to graduate, get good jobs and pay in to our social security.

aliquando's picture
Submitted by aliquando on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 11:26pm.

I do not believe that there is a Federal requirement on the # of days. There may be a requirement from SACS, the accrediting agency.

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