FCPS: Pre-Labor Day Start Likely for 2017-18 and Beyond

by Karen Goff April 29, 2016 at 10:00 am 5 Comments

Superintendent Karen Garza/FCPSThe Fairfax County School Board voted on Thursday to begin the school year prior to Labor Day, which is a break with the traditional September start.

The vote directs Superintendent Karen Garza to draft a calendar for the 2017-18 school year that begins the school year one week earlier prior to Labor Day. The 2017-18 school year will begin on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, FCPS says.

Garza says this change is being made to provide more instructional time before winter break, enhanced flexibility to help students and school staff members meet college application deadlines, and to end the school year earlier in June.

The 2016-17 school year calendar was approved by the School Board on December 3, 2015; the first day of the 2016-17 school year will be Sept. 6.

The final 2017-18 calendar will be voted on by the School Board in the fall, FCPS says. Residents will have a chance to offer input and opinion.

FCPS this month conducted a survey asking parents and students what they thought of the change.

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 eight 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.

Karen Garza/file photo

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