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FCPS August Start Favored by Majority of Survey Answers

by Karen Goff — May 3, 2016 at 10:00 am 1 Comment

fcps logoThe Fairfax County School Board voted last week to institute a new school-year calendar that begins school prior to Labor Day.

That’s a change from the last few decades, where FCPS has started the Tuesday after Labor Day.

FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza will now draft a new school year calendar, which will be voted by the board later this fall. The new schedule would go into effect in 2017-18. The first day of school that year would be Aug. 28.

The new calendar will also end school earlier in June. The last day of school for 2015-16 is June 23.

The Code of Virginia (22.1-79.1) allows local Boards of Education to waive a 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.

The school board’s decision was also based in part on results of an April survey of parents and staff. While parents were in favor of the change by a small percentage of the 41,942 responses, it was school staff members that really showed their support, with 64 percent (of the 12,105 responses) of them favoring the pre-Labor Day start.

Here is what the numbers look like:

Parents  (41,942 responses)

  • 52.58% Support (22,054)
  • 47.42% Do not support (19,888)

Staff – (14,105 responses)

  • 64.29% Support (9,068)
  • 35.71% Do not support (5,037)

By Grade Level

K-6 (23,984 responses)

  • 50.44% Support (12,097)
  • 49.56% Do no support (11,887)

7-8 (10,469 responses)

  • 50.21% Support (5,257)
  • 49.79% Do not support (5,212)

9-12 (14,264 responses)

  • 51.76% Support (7,383)
  • 48.24% Do not support (6,881)

Some of the top reasons for and against from parents

Supporting Pre-Labor Day Start

  • 78% summer vacation starting earlier in June
  • 57% additional instruction time prior to winter break
  • 38% additional time to prepare for standardized tests
  • 33% opportunity for summer student enrichment, internships,
    other programs

Supporting Post-Labor Day start

  • 84% prefer traditional summer vacation schedule (August)
  • 68% disruption to travel or other summer plans
  • 28% shorter summer during first year implementation
  • 9% temporary status of pre-Labor Day waiver

Some of the top reasons for and against from staff

Supporting Pre-Labor Day start

  • 84% summer vacation starting earlier in June
  • 55% additional instruction time prior to winter break
  • 48% additional time to prepare for standardized tests
  • 27% opportunity for summer student enrichment, internships

Supporting Post-Labor Day start

  • 75% prefer traditional summer vacation schedule (August)
  • 55% disruption to travel or other summer plans
  • 40% shorter summer during first year of implementation
  • 13% temporary status of pre-Labor Day waiver

See the entire results page on the FCPS School Board website.

Where do you stand on school starting in August?

  • blueotter

    The voters have spoken, and much to my dismay, the decision goes against my vote. My only hope at this point is that the weather patterns change and that the waiver will expire so that things will revert back to the post-Labor Day start at the end of the current waiver period.

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