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Important School Calendar Announcement

Important School Calendar Annoucement
Posted on 06/01/2020
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Dear School Community,

Although we are only one month into the new school year, we are already beginning work on the 2020-21 and 2021-22 calendars. Wanting to give parents plenty of time to coordinate their family and school schedules, we started the calendar building process much earlier this year. Additionally, we are now building our calendars two years in advance to give our parents even more time to plan. This “process” change was motivated by the inquiries we receive about vacations, camps, and family events, but it was also prompted by the fact that Labor Day falls so late in September next year. Although we typically start after the holiday, maintaining this tradition while still following state law and maintaining winter holidays, spring break, and an early June closing is becoming increasingly difficult. Nevertheless, we are going to weigh the multitude of complexities and present draft versions of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 calendars to the Board by the end of October. This email is intended to make sure that parents are aware that starting school prior to Labor Day next year is a possibility.

Some Factors the Calendar Committee Must Consider

Labor Day falls on September 7th next year, which means that if we begin on Tuesday, September 8th, there are only 16 school days in the month. This fact is important when considering that PA School Code requires that school must be in session for a minimum of 180 days each school year. Code also requires that instruction be provided for a minimum of 900 hours for grades 1-8 and 990 hours for grades 9-12 during each school year. Starting after Labor Day, therefore, would necessitate changes in some of our traditional vacation/inservice days or extending the school year into the third week of June–excluding the impact of weather closings.

Beginning before the holiday would give us at least four additional days for added flexibility and the four days prior to the holiday could also be used for the schools’ organizational needs, allowing our teachers to jump right into the learning when students return.

At the high school level, over 600 of our high school students are involved in fall activities that start next year on August 10th. One, consequently, could argue that for these students, the school year has already begun.

Also relevant to the high school, since we already begin later than most schools, an after Labor Day start puts our Advanced Placement teachers behind other schools in preparing their students for tests which are always in the first half of May.

Approximately 50% of our community prefers to keep the school year starting after the holiday. Many families’ vacation plans depend on this tradition as do the work responsibilities of some of our students.

A later start gives our administrators, faculty, and staff plenty of time to prepare classrooms, buildings, and buses for our students.

For our families with older children, the later start allows parents to get their college aged children settled prior to the added burden of having their younger children in school.

These are only a few of the many issues that must be discussed by our district calendar committee. We realize that it is impossible to please everyone, especially when we consider that when we surveyed parents on this topic a few years ago, the data was evenly split for and against a post- Labor Day start. Regardless of our decision, we want to let parents know that we are working on the issue and plan to have a definitive recommendation for our Board of Directors by the end of October.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

Garnet Valley School District



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