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.”


Kelly Johnson 3 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.


Christine Pennewell Davis 3 years, 8 months ago

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


jhwk215 3 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?


Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 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.


Practicality 3 years, 8 months ago

Sad comment on too many parents, I am afraid.


Randall Uhrich 3 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.


Laura Wilson 3 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.


storm 3 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.


jackson5 3 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.


Kornphlake 3 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.


Blessed4x 3 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.


Christine Pennewell Davis 3 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.


Rex Russell 3 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?


lucy1 3 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.


hip_gma 3 years, 8 months ago

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


youngjayhawk 3 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!


izzybear 3 years, 8 months ago

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


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