When To Start School?

When To Start School?

School Board seeks comment on whether to open school before or after Labor Day.

Parents are weighing in on whether school should open before or after Labor Day next year. The votes so far are about 2 to 1 in favor of a pre-holiday start.

The School Board, which will make the ultimate decision, will be accepting e-mail votes until its next meeting, Oct. 26. Parents are encouraged to express their opinions by writing schools@loudoun.k12.va.us.

Edgar Hatrick, superintendent of schools, said Loudoun could have started before Labor Day this year, because it had enough snow days to justify the move. The General Assembly has adopted a measure giving school districts permission to start before the holiday, if the highest number of snow days in five out of 10 years totals 40 or more days. Loudoun’s has fluctuated from two one year to 11 the next. If the county has at least eight snow days this year, it qualifies for a pre-Labor Day start date.

LAST WEEK, the e-mail votes were about 450 in favor of pre-Labor Day and 200 post-Labor Day.

School Board member Joseph Guzman (Sugarland) maintains a pre-Labor Day opening is the best option. It provides additional vacation time during the Christmas break, which is an important time for families. “It is very helpful to have public input,” he said. “My reasons for favoring the pre-labor day start appear to be reinforced.”

Chairman John Andrews said Monday that starting school in August also provides a full day off before Thanksgiving and shortens the school year by two days. The first day of school this year was after Labor Day. An argument in favor of the post-holiday start was a reduction in absenteeism during the first week of school. Families often are still vacationing in late August.

“Our absenteeism isn’t any better by starting after … than over the past four or five years,” Andrews said, adding he has not decided which side he will support.

Robert Dupree (Dulles) said the parental input is very helpful. “My position is evolving as I read the emails,” he said.