As public schools opened their doors to students this year, it was the last time they can start before the third Monday in August. The move toward an early August start a few decades ago seemed to be tied to expected improvement on standardized tests and expected improvement on end of semester tests moved before the Christmas break.
Now the thinking is the early start dates make little if any difference. Proponents of the later start date say the schools will save money on air conditioning when they remain closed for more of these hottest days in August.
Then there is the expectation of improved state tourism with people taking more vacations. If the power savings and the tourism tax money can be funneled into what has been a tight education budget, we are for it. But we want local school boards to retain the power to decide the rest of the school year calendar.
A hundred years ago, school leaders in farm communities made sure classes were out during spring planting and fall harvest. While that need is no longer valid, local leaders today know how much time should be taken for other events and holidays.
The worst thing that could happen with a standardized calendar is to schedule classes in which half the students don't show up because of conflicts with holidays unique to our region like Mardi Gras.
That's our opinion, we would like to hear yours. Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your comments below.
WLOX-TV General Manager
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