Our superintendent came and spoke to our faculty two weeks ago as a part of his annual visits. He usually does his “Thanks for having me ” speech for a minute and opens the floor for any questions the faculty may have. The first question that came up this year was the “Kings Dominion Law” that was on the news the week before. Teachers wanted to know why the county did not inform them of this legislature before the media got a hold of it. They also wanted to let the superintendent know that several of them already had vacation plans and could not be back to school before the end of August this year. In fact, one teacher asked for a show of hands for all those who already had pre-paid plans so the superintendent could get a visual of how important this issue was to the faculty. The Director of Elementary Education, who came to the meeting with the superintendent, also raised his hand.
I realize that the superintendent must be in the political frame of mind for a good majority of the time. There are a lot of politically correct methods of saying things. Our superintendent stated he could not answer what the county would do or not do about this particular policy because it hasn’t passed yet. It was a topic that wasn’t “on the table” for discussion. Our teachers desperately wanted to hear that their vacation plans would not be affected and our superintendent was trying to help them understand that their plans would not be affected while trying not to talk about an issue that technically doesn’t exist yet.
If this legislation passes, it would create a policy that changes the start and end date of the school year. Some benefits that our superintendent stated was that the start time would help out our students taking AP courses and create flexibility in the SOL testing window. This sounds to me like our superintendent is supportive of the change in policy. Because he is supportive, it would not be hard to implement the policy, except for the shortened summer vacation time for the first summer of implementation. One of our teachers suggested that we go to longer school hours in the day during the last year before implementation to shorten that school year and give a little extra summer time. I thought that was pretty ingenious.
I think that beginning our school year earlier would dampen the tradition of beginning after Labor Day, that last three day weekend when your anticipation builds for the start of a new school year. But other than the sentiments, I see no difference in starting in the beginning of August versus the end of August. I remember the hot August heat and wonder if it’s not better to be inside the cool air conditioned school building than driving around in your car running errands in the heat. And besides, teachers may also get some great summer vacation deals if we are given an opportunity to book trips in early June rather than fight the mass of vacationers in the middle of August. And maybe that’s the only real reason I need to hope that this legislature will pass.