Archive for Friday, August 13, 2010

Early start for school catching some by surprise

August 13, 2010


Attention, all students and families new to the Lawrence school district:

Teachers are taking roll. Homework is being assigned. Classes are under way.


“We’ve had families in here enrolling, and they think they have two or three weeks before school starts,” said Kim Young, who runs the district’s new Welcome & Enrollment Center at 110 McDonald Drive. “They think they’re early.

“We tell them school’s started and they say, ‘WHAAAT!’”

This week’s early start for school — Wednesday, Thursday or today, depending on your grade level — evidently is catching more than a few folks by surprise.

While enrollment already is up by six students at Langston Hughes School, more will be sure to arrive in the days — even weeks — ahead.

“More will trickle in, just because we’re starting so early,” said Principal Jackie Mickel, who has 518 students. “People from out of state typically don’t think we start until after Labor Day.”

Hillcrest School’s enrollment climbed to 373 students Thursday, up by 42 from last August. Of the newcomers, 20 were expected: the English as a second language students transferring in from Cordley School.

Now, with Kansas University classes still waiting to start, Hillcrest figures to see class sizes increase a bit more.

“We’ll get at least a handful of new kids in the next couple weeks,” said Principal Tammy Becker, who has 16 classroom teachers, just like last year. “Lots of new faces.”

Some missing faces quickly caught the attention of personnel at Quail Run School.

“We had to make some phone calls yesterday to find out where some students were,” said Principal Debbie Tann, who verified that at least four had been unaware that school had started, while others remained out on family vacations. “We did surprise some folks, but they’re here today.”


izzybear 7 years, 8 months ago

my question is why did school start a week earlier this year does anyone know?

smercer 7 years, 8 months ago

Here are the number of days off scheduled for this year: 1 in Sept. , 2 in Oct., 6 in Nov., 2 half-days and 10 full days in Dec., 3 in Jan., 3 in Feb., 7 in March and 2 in April (if we have no snow days). Some are holidays like the 10 full days in December. Days off for students plus short Wednesdays means the school year is longer to meet state requirements about contact time.

GardenMomma 7 years, 8 months ago

Actually, it did not a week earlier this year. Last year the first day of school was August 12th.

Kelly Johnson 7 years, 8 months ago

You're right, but it is almost a week earlier than it was 5 years ago. I think it started the 16th in 2005 (the year my kids started in the Lawrence district). The start date has consistently been at least one day earlier every year.

youngjayhawk 7 years, 8 months ago

Why not start school after Labor Day and end at Memorial Day? Years ago, that was the norm; year by year LPS has added a few days to the beginning of school and look where we are. Judging by the latest AYP results, the calendar is not effective. Just ridiculous!

tomatogrower 7 years, 8 months ago

There is a lot more that teachers are required to do nowadays. When I went to school, if the kid was lazy and didn't do the work, it was the parent's fault, and the kid brought shame to the family. Now it's the teacher's fault, and they have to have meetings for interventions, and required inservices for things they've already learned, or things, like technology, that the teachers of the past didn't have. Why does it hurt for the kids to go back early? They have had 2 months off.

gatekeeper 7 years, 8 months ago

As an ex teacher I will tell you that the B.S. they put teachers through on those inservice afternoons is not needed and takes away from teaching and keeping up with the duties a teacher needs to focus on. I don't teach anymore because our system has become a joke. Those inservice days are pretty much wasted.

hip_gma 7 years, 8 months ago

Come on parents, get with it! No excuse for not knowing when school starts.

Kent Fisher 7 years, 8 months ago

Precisely. No excuse for not knowing. Plenty of prior notification. Get a better handle on your life folks.

lucy1 7 years, 8 months ago

Are you kidding? Drive by the school of your choice; count the number of teachers still there at four o’clock on the collaboration days . The early out accounts for about eleven days to the year. This union is holding us hostage. Count the number of days that school is out. Better yet count the number of weeks the children attend school five days in a row. Remember this is not five full days, just five days.

tomatogrower 7 years, 8 months ago

lucy1, do you really drive by all the schools every Weds. afternoon? I don't have kids in school anymore, so I don't know the hours of the school day, but doesn't their day end around 4:00 anyway? I do know teachers have to do a lot more for the government to prove that they are doing their jobs. You can either demand that the politicians get out of the way, so teachers can teach, or you can give them the time they need to plan interventions for struggling students. I'm real sure the schools would let you sit in on collabortion time and on inservice days to make sure they are working. Have you ever done that? Or are you just upset that you have to make day care arrangements? Remember, schools are not day cares.

pace 7 years, 8 months ago

Get out of the way. I heard that before. The attitude that parents or any one else are in the way if they don't immediately agree with the teacher or school board. If they don't nod their head and pluck their cowlick at every idea the school wants to try. You attack day care because it is designed to work with a families schedule? Like that is a bad parent thing! Making a schedule possible where parents can earn a living and not make extraordinary special accommodations. I remember when they started the Wed. afternoon off. I got notified Tues. night that from now on I would have to pick my darling up wed. When I went to the school board, they stood there and lied that parents had input on this and plenty of notice. I say pay the teacher more, hire more teacher to cover staggered training. The idea that it is better for the student to split the learning day from school to day care because if schools did accept the responsibility of working with average parent work schedules would encourage bad parents is stupid. Longer days and September to May aren't bad parent ideas, they are good parent ideas.

Rex Russell 7 years, 8 months ago

First of all, I'm trying really hard not to sound like "When I was a kid.....", but here it goes anyway. -----We have Fall break, Christmas break, Spring break, built in snow days, and the quite annoying every Wed. afternoon. It's simply amazing we can't still get the required school year in between Labor Day And Memorial Day. I grew up in Kansas and I don't ever remember ever starting before the last 2-3 days before Labor Day at the earliest. If you have lived here for any period of time you know that the hottest time of the year is the last couple weeks of July and the first couple weeks of August. My question is this: We are terribly cash strapped are we not? We are making hard decisions between paying administrative/operating costs and retaining teachers. What is the added cost of running the AC for the multiple schools in 105 degree heat? What would the savings be if we started later? To allow for this, could we eliminate the needless Fall break and the Wed. early exit?

tomatogrower 7 years, 8 months ago

When I was in school our spring break was the Friday before and the Monday after Easter, not a full week. They would probably run the air conditioners anyway for teachers coming in early to get ready, or for cleaning crews, enrollment, etc. And what would be wrong with year round school, with several smaller breaks? We still run the school schedule with the agrarian society of the past.

Christine Pennewell Davis 7 years, 8 months ago

I would have loved to have a later start date for many reasons but last night was a big one at least for my 10 year old she missed the meteor shower because of the early start where in other years she would have been able to see it. I have noticed that even with starting earlier the school year is not really ending any sooner it is still the end of may when the school year is done. Oh well life goes on and the world is still turning and my kiddo is happy about school starting.

Blessed4x 7 years, 8 months ago

We've had some common sense enter our school district this year. They have added approximately 30 minutes to each school day allowing for the first day of school to be the week after next and the year to end in the middle of May. This way the hottest days of the year are avoided, saving on utilities. It's brilliant. I found it hard to believe that our school board could have done something so sensible, but they did and I applaud them for it.

Kornphlake 7 years, 8 months ago

Let's just get rid of summer break entirely and hold our children to a higher standard the we were held to.

jackson5 7 years, 8 months ago

Kansas schools must provide either 186 days of instruction or 1116 hours of instruction. Each district may choose to use days or hours. Lawrence schools use hours.

Early dismissal Wednesdays means that the school year lasts longer to make up those lost hours. A longer year means increased expenses for utilities, janitorial services, transportation, and so on. Those funds could be used to pay for teachers and programs.

Kudos are due to the USD497 administration, though. They announced at the board meeting Monday that the average class sizes are not increasing this year, in spite of budget cuts and there is still a contingency teacher unassigned. Further, they didn't have to tap into any contingency funds to make up the state funding cuts last year; they had stated previously that $2million was needed to fill the hole. Very nice.

justsayin 7 years, 8 months ago

Average class sizes are down??? Then why are there 26 kids in my daughter's class this year instead of the 19 that there were last year? And this was on Wednesday, I can only assume that there will be more since some people don't pay attention to when school starts. I know I wouldn't be able to handle taking care of 26 grade school kids on my own let alone trying to teach them something during the day.

storm 7 years, 8 months ago

Early dismissal Wednesdays (known as Why-Bother-Wenesdays or Worthless Wednesdays) are really Child-Endangerment Days. These are the days when students are home without supervision meeting strangers on the computer or hanging with their friends and impregnanting a few. Year-round school with three or four week breaks makes more sense now more than ever, especially with climate-controlled buildings and students no longer working on their farms.

whatadrag 7 years, 8 months ago

Let the schools raise my children for me....Is that what you're saying?

short_one 7 years, 8 months ago

Okay, storm, get real. There are any number of things that seem worthless about Wednesdays in USD497 but frankly, you have a responsibility as a parent to supervise your child or find someone appropriate to do it for you. It isn't the schools' problem nor is it the problem of the taxpayer. Lucky people find relatives or alter a work schedule, the rest pay someone. People like you make me sick.

Laura Wilson 7 years, 8 months ago

Kids are out of school a lot more days now during the year than when I attended (here in Lawrence thirty years ago) and we still had a whole week at Spring Break because of KU. We started the last week in August (and with only a couple schools with AC that was miserable) and ended before Memorial Day. We had all the federal holidays off as well as about ten days at Christmas. I graduated HS on the May 26, and school ended the next day which gave everyone pretty much three whole months of summer.

I was shocked to see kids at the bus stop yesterday! Way too early and only possible because all the schools are air conditioned.

And for those who say that kids don't need long summer breaks and look to other countries, that's not exactly an accurate picture, at least not in England and Ireland, where, true, they only have about two months off for summer, but they have a much longer winter break and about two weeks at Easter.

However, in the end, parents should know when school starts and plan vacations accordingly. That so many kids are missing the first few days is ridiculous.

Randall Uhrich 7 years, 8 months ago

I've been reading the comments and trying to guess why in the world school should start 3 or 4 weeks before Labor Day. Makes no sense to me. A couple of clues made me speculate that the teachers' unions are making sure that the teachers are getting compensated for all the hours they put in, including the time outside of classes. Also thrown in are some off periods during the year. I don't begrudge them being fairly compensated, but surely there must be some arrangement to delay start until after the hottest time of the year. Summer vacation should be all of June, July, and August, period.

Practicality 7 years, 8 months ago

Sad comment on too many parents, I am afraid.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 8 months ago

"Why not start school after Labor Day and end at Memorial Day? Years ago, that was the norm"; sez many of the above posters. Yeah, me too. When I was in school, schools did not have air conditioning (it was regarded as a health hazard) and even in early September in southwest Oklahoma, the weather was pretty sweltering (although we did not have the humidity that seems to be here) Also, we did not have 20 different types of days off and "spring break" was a defective suspension on your car. We started school in September, went to classes regularly, took off Christmas and a few other days, and then returned to school for a few weeks for final exams. School was out right before Memorial day and then the pools opened. Frankly, I regard the current system as one of the causes of so many failures in education we have today. No employers gives so much "time off", and kids go to work expecting to work for a few weeks and then have some sort of "break" for a few weeks. That is not the way it works, and the results are pretty evident.

There are a lot of ills in society today, but the administration of the schools would be one of my first choices, education is such a vital and necessary element in today's society and work place, and our schools seem te be moving in the opposite direction.

jhwk215 7 years, 8 months ago

do lawrence schools get built in snow days? or when they have a snow day do they add on to the school year?

whatadrag 7 years, 8 months ago

They plan for snow days,

So if there is a day off due to snow, then the kids will have to go to school some day in march or april I think. But if there isn't a day off due to snow, then they get that/those days off in march/april.

Christine Pennewell Davis 7 years, 8 months ago

No there are two snow days worked in on the calander.

Kelly Johnson 7 years, 8 months ago

28 days off for 7-12 (not counting the few days extra seniors get at the end of the year) 30 days off for K-6

If I counted them right, that is.

It does seem like it would make more sense to either go to a year-round calendar where the time off they get in summer now is re-distributed throughout the year, or stick to the Labor Day to Memorial Day and just adjust the length of the school day to fit. The 2nd option would probably save $$ for the district as people mentioned above due to less utilities used and support staff needed.

Has the Lawrence district ever considered these options? It bugs me that the start date is earlier and earlier every year. This year the kids had 11 weeks off for summer and it seems like it used to be closer to 13.

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