Lindsay Schoener 0

Fix CCSD 2012-2013 Start Date

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On July 22, 2010 the Clark County Board of School Trustees voted on a somewhat major decision – to adjust the academic school year calendar to an earlier start date so that final exams would be administered, and the first semester would conclude prior to the start of winter break.  This decision was based on a vast amount of rhetoric deficient of any real academic substance, poor polling practices, and without much regard to the effects on our elementary school students and parents.  The new school year calendar will go into effect for the 2012/2013 school year.  The estimated start date would be sometime between August 8 and August 15, 2011, and the estimated end date would be May 17, 2013.  There are many reasons that this change is not what is best for our school district.  During the July 22nd meeting, the Trustees brought up multiple problems with this start date but still decided to support this scheduling modification.  They believed that an ample number of staff, community members, parents, and students were surveyed to support this change when in fact that was not the case.  The Trustees made an incorrect assumption thinking that the majority of students and staff are in favor of an early August start date.   This new calendar causes many problems.

·        Cost at least 1.2 million dollars due to increased energy.  This is an insult to our educators when they are facing salary cuts.  Las Vegas is 12-15 degrees hotter in August than in June.  It is more cost effective to run our school’s air conditioning systems in June and not in August.

·        Based on news articles, House Committee testimony, and research, school officials around the nation state that there is very little research to support the assumption that students perform better academically if the first semester is completed prior to the winter break; to the contrary, evidence that supports the current calendar is more prevalent.  The majority of leading public schools, when measuring AP test results, SAT and ACT results, and college entrance rates, come from the following 7 states:  California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, and Connecticut.  Most of the public schools in these states start their school year around late August early September – many of them after Labor Day.  These schools give their final exams after winter break. 

·        Advance Placement exams present another concern, although never really mentioned at the school board meeting.  The Advance Placement exams are administered the first two weeks in May.  Based on the 2007/2008 calendar, which is similar to 2012/2013 calendar; the AP exams could start as late as May 6 and end on May 17.  With the earlier proposed start date final exams would either be conflicting with AP exams or one week later, compromising preparation time and conflicting with normal end of the year activities – senior awards ceremonies, senior assembly, yearbook signing, grad night trip, and graduation.   Schools that have significant space between AP exams and final exams tend to have higher scores on the AP exams. 

·        High School sports presents yet another complication with the altered calendar.  In 2010 the state championship for baseball took place on May 22nd; this year it’s supposed to take place on May 17th.  Assuming state playoffs through the NIAA will continue in Nevada, the play-offs and championship games for spring sports will be overlapping with end of school year activities as well as final exam preparation.  An early August start date also affects our high school football players.  Normally practice is held early in the morning before school starts in late August.  With school starting early in August our athletes would have to practice after school during the hottest month and the hottest time of the day.

·        Another item to take into account during this tough economic time is the loss of summer vacation time to teachers.  The summer of 2012 would be cut short 2.5 weeks because school would end in June on our current schedule but start early August on the new schedule.  Many of our teachers depend on summer income to supplement their salary.  A loss of two and half weeks in salary is significant at this time.

·        Starting early August could also add costs for families and teachers with young children.  Families with pre-school children in private pre-school programs will have to fund additional day care unless all of these pre-schools change their school calendars as well. 

We implore our school board trustees to reassess their decision to start our school year earlier in August. It seems judicious to either stay on our current calendar schedule or adjust our calendar to start a week later which appears to make more sense cost wise and academically.   It is unwise to make any change that not only has debatable effects but will add to the school district’s operating expenses.   In the past couple of years we have cut programs, denied cost of living increases, and adjusted pupil/teacher ratios.  Currently there is much discussion among our state legislators about more cuts, furlough days, and salary reductions; this is not the time to experiment with an extremely questionable policy that will cost more money. There is much we can do, without added costs and not near as controversial to improve education here in southern Nevada.




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