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The long cold winter and initiated measure to change the school start date

Anyone catch the articles in the Mitchell newspaper or the Argus this weekend? I think they provide the best argument why the initiated measure to change the school start date might be in for a rocky time this election. As found in the Mitchell Daily Republic:
... a “legislative fix” might be necessary to reduce the number of required instructional hours if school snow days become too numerous this winter.

But Mitchell Superintendent of Schools Joe Graves says schools have an obligation to teach students and called the concern a “tempest in a teapot.”

“We want those days,” he said. “Students need those days. We’ll just make them up later. A day of school is not a liability, it’s an asset.”

Mitchell lost three school days this week to inclement weather. The district had classes on Wednesday and Friday. Graves said time will be made up by ending the school year on Tuesday, May 23, instead of May 18, a Thursday.
Patronize this excellent paper, and read it all here.

At a time when schools are taking off snow days left and right because of inclement weather, how is the coalition of tourism interests pushing this measure to free up students for more summertime work going to reasonably justify starting the school year that many days later, while we are starting to eat up all of the snow days set in the school calendar?

Right now, Mitchell is a week away from an ending date in June because of inclement weather. And they started the school year about 2 weeks before labor day! Can you imagine if they had pushed the school calendar forward as if the measure was in effect - starting after labor day this year?

School would have started on September 2nd pushing the calendar forward 10 instructional days, causing it to end about June 6th. And that's making the assumption we'll have no more bad weather this winter - an assumption you cannot easily make. Add a few more snow days, and you could easily be in the middle of June.

That's why I think this might be a bad year for this measure. It will be too easy to illustrate with the prior winter's example how snow days could push the school calendar well into June.

I might be wrong. Heck, I probably will be wrong. But I think it's easier to start them early than to keep them later.

And as the parent of six kids, I prefer my local school district make the decision of when to start the school year as opposed to a statewide coalition of interests who's main goals are driven by business, not education.

All editorializing aside, all of this brings up a good political point. As a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, I'm all for business and free enterprise. But ensuring that my children have a good education is one of the basic values that all voters share, irregardless of party.

It will be interesting to see which one wins out in November.


Anne said…
Three solid months of summer vacation is enough, especially for the youngest students. I would be in favor of even an earlier start date with more breaks in the spring. February through May feels like a long hard slog sometimes.

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