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FCPS Will Ask Families What They Think of Pre-Labor Day Start

by Karen Goff — March 16, 2016 at 10:00 am 16 Comments

fcps logoThe Fairfax County School Board is seriously considering starting school before Labor Day in 2017-18.

The school board’s Public Engagement Committee (PEC) will discuss the matter at a work session on Thursday. The PEC is planning an online survey to gauge community opinion on the calendar, says school board At-Large member Ryan McElveen, who chairs the PEC.

The survey will take place in April, and the board will vote on the calendar change April 28, he added.

The 2016-17 calendar will not change. That was adopted in December, and school will begin on Sept. 6, 2016.

In Fairfax County, school has for decades started the day after Labor Day in accordance with the Virginia “Kings Dominion” law.

The law is a 1986 Virginia statute that mandates school start in September. When the law was passed, it was helped along by the tourism industry, which said it needed students as staffers (and families to keep on vacationing) through Labor Day. Thus, the amusement park moniker.

Recent attempts to change the law in the Virginia General Assembly have failed.

But the  Code of Virginia (22.1-79.1), allows local Boards of Education to waive the state requirement to begin schools after Labor Day if a district is closed an average of 8 days per year during five of the past 10 years due to weather conditions, energy shortages, power failures, or other emergencies.

FCPS qualifies for the waiver because, during five of the past 10 years, the district has averaged 8.4 days missed due to weather conditions and other events.

Based upon this current average of missed days, the waiver option will continue at least through the 2019-20 school year, FCPS said in a release.

Do you think the school system should make the change?

  • With an S

    If school gets out earlier in June, then there will be more students to work and families vacationing in June. This seems akin to daylight savings time. Summer vacation is just moved up a bit, not longer.

  • Mike M

    When you propose a change, you normally have a reason. What are the benefits? Besides warehousing the kids of dual income parents at everyone’s shared expense?

    • Richard

      What are you talking about? I agree that there’s no obvious benefit to the change, but nobody said they plan to lengthen the school year.

      • Mike M

        Richard, the idea of year-round school has been floated too.

  • Ming the Merciless

    How about we front-load all the stupid “teacher work days” to before Labor Day, and have the current “teacher work days” become actual student learning days.

    • Richard

      Sure, and just save those stupid administrative meetings, required training, and student evaluations for the summertime.

      • Ming the Merciless

        “But… but… we’d have to work in the summertime? Like everyone in the real world does? Unthinkable!”

        • Paul

          That’s cute. Where are you going to get the money to pay their salaries over the summer?

          • Ming the Merciless

            Nobody in the real world gets paid extra to work in the summer.

          • Paul

            Most people in the real world get paid a salary for 12 months. FCPS teachers get paid a salary for 10 months.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Only because the union contract defines it that way. It would still be good money if it was for 12 months. Personally I’m fine with redefining it as a 12 month salary and seeing who quits. Given that there are over 10 applicants for every full-time teaching job, I don’t think we’d have much trouble filling the slots.

          • Paul

            FCPS has a high number of applicants because they can offer higher salaries than the surrounding counties (save Arlington). Redefining those salaries as a 12 month salary is not possible, but, assuming you could, FCPS would be much less desirable and would lose teachers to the surrounding counties. We can agree to disagree that $47,000 (starting pay for a new teacher with no masters) is good money in the 2nd richest county in the country (median household income is $112k).

            The greater point that is being missed though is that teachers are integral to our society and should be valued not put down. I have no problem with you expressing your opinion, but there are better ways to do that than casting aspersions on the entire profession.

          • Ming the Merciless

            FCPS has a high number of applicants because they can offer higher salaries than the surrounding counties (save Arlington).

            Ha. That’s not what they say. They say starting salaries are roughly comparable to surrounding counties, but over a 30 year period teaching in FCPS involves (gasp, sob) a terrible, terrible financial sacrifice. Therefore we should give them more money, and stuff.

            We can agree to disagree that $47,000 (starting pay for a new teacher
            with no masters) is good money in the 2nd richest county in the country
            (median household income is $112k).

            Adjusted for inflation, that’s what my starting salary was in Fairfax County — AND that was for 12 months work, AND I had a PhD so my career started six years later than someone with a BA. The idea that someone fresh out of school, just starting their career should make anything close to the median household income for 9 months work is simply preposterous.

            In short, cry my a river about that $47k. Plenty of people will step up and take that for a full year of work.

  • LakeNewportLady

    When I was a kid we went back before Labor Day. Don’t really see the issue but also don’t understand the reason for change…is it to accommodate snow days??

  • James Colbert

    fcps cant budget now, with millions of dollars in short supplies and they wasted money on this late opening crap for HS, really how are you going to budget this…take back the teacher raises?

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Ending school in late June means some summer camp sessions and other opportunities are not available. Here’s an example:

    https://www.aclu.org/feature/aclu-summer-institute

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