Starting school in August — not out of the question in NJ
Public schools in Summit could begin the academic year before Labor Day in 2019.
The Education Committee's proposal puts forth a start date of Aug. 28, claiming the move would allow for a "robust instructional September" and provide additional instructional time before testing in the spring.
But it looks like the district will have plenty of push back from parents, hundreds of whom have signed an online petition asking that the school calendar start after the Labor Day holiday — as it always has.
"Between the heat, childcare issues and quality family time, I believe this proposed change would be more detrimental than positive for our children and our families," said petition signer Nishea Clark.
"The heat is the biggest factor," said fellow signer Carolyn McGhee. "It's unsafe and the kids and teachers are miserable."
According to the district's "key points" related to the proposed calendar, the last five days in August 2018 recorded an average temperature of 87.2 degrees. The average was 88 degrees over the first five days of September of 2018.
If the heat were to become excessive, the district wrote, a "Single Session" day may be called. If students were to start school the Wednesday before Labor Day, schools would be closed on Friday and Monday in observance of the holiday.
According to Frank Belluscio, deputy executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, while it's not common for schools to start classes before Labor Day, it's also not unprecedented.
The first day of school this year for all students of the North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional High School District was August 23, for example.
Belluscio said districts consider several factors when creating a school calendar, such as continuity of instruction, holiday observances, and the desires of the community.
"Another factor that has to be considered is climate. Many of our school buildings do not have air conditioning," Belluscio said.
The majority of Summit's public schools are air conditioned, the superintendent's office said.
In years when Labor Day falls later, Belluscio said, more districts will start classes prior to the holiday. The 2018 holiday landed on September 3.
Summit's Board of Education will consider the calendar update on October 18.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.