McLean Residents React to Support for Earlier School Opening
FCPS Families, Employees Support Beginning School Before Labor Day
A majority of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) families and employees support opening schools one week before Labor Day, beginning with the 2012-13 school year, as indicated in a recent FCPS survey, school officials said Tuesday.
“There are several reasons to open schools before Labor Day, the most important of which is to provide additional instructional time for teachers and students before Standards of Learning (SOL) testing takes place,” said FCPS Superintendent Jack D. Dale. “Our parents and employees are solidly behind making this change. It’s time for the state to address the wishes of our community to start school earlier.”
FCPS surveyed its parents and staff members and found that 64 percent of 10,687 parents who responded and 71 percent of 12,562 employees who responded were in favor of beginning school before Labor Day.
Members of the new Moms Council of McLean, a group recently organized by McLean Patch to lead new coverage of Moms, said:
Anne B. Wydler: "In a world of overscheduled, overbooked and overworked kids, the last bastion of fun and relaxation is summer. Keeping all of August open (vs starting school before Labor Day) gives young kids a chance to be outside, vacation with family or just fill lazy days with swimming and reading books. Older kids have a better opportunity for summer jobs and internships because of the extended summer. As a parent, I enjoy the opportunity for extra-curricular time with my kids."
Alison Senold: "I support the proposal to open schools before labor day. Gaining the additional instructional time before SOLs makes perfect sense to me."
Jennifer Bargerstock: "I understand how many would like our year to continue to start later. Once kids get to High School, though, having the school year extended even a few days for snow impacts student's ability to participate in camps, college courses, etc. My son has been invited by Stanford and Vanderbilt to participate in 6 and 8 week sessions for rising seniors next summer. If the weather keeps up like this, he will miss the first week(s), if he decides he wants to do either. Last summer, had we gone any later, I would have had to keep both boys out of school for a sports camp at the Naval Academy. At $900 each, they weren't going to miss a minute to sign yearbooks and wait for school to let out. August is so hot and miserable, too. I'd rather have them in school then and out when the weather is cooler and we can go out for bike rides, hikes, and visit the local historic areas before the worst of the tourists arrive!"
Ed Saperstein, chair, of McLean Citizens Association Education Committee and a Langley parent: "Great. I support the survey results of starting school before Labor Day as this better aligns the school calendar with standardized tests and provides more scheduling flexibility when we have bad winters weather-wise.
Over the years, the (Education) committee has supported and the MCA Board has passed resolutions requesting that Virginia allow local School Boards the authority to determine the starting date of the school year (please see attached). Last year the(Education) committee started having discussions again with local officials on this issue. I would encourage us to support FCPS in their efforts to get the Virginia law changed."
In addition to more instructional time, Fairfax school officials believe an earlier start time to the school year would:
- Align the FCPS calendar with local universities, allowing better access for students who participate in dual enrollment courses.
- Provide greater scheduling flexibility in the event of a large number of closings due to inclement weather.
- End the school year a week earlier in June.
While several bills that would have eliminated the post-Labor Day opening requirement were introduced during the current session of the General Assembly, none of the bills advanced beyond subcommittee and thus will not come up for a vote in the full House or Senate, school officials said.