Back to school so soon

The Sept. 11, 1952 edition of The Alpine Sun lists a notice of a Parent Teacher Association meeting to be held the following week, welcoming the start of the school year. Seventy years later, Alpine Union School District is slated to start on Aug. 17, about a month earlier. AUSD Superintendent Richard Newman provided insight on the shift.

“With an agrarian farming society, school traditionally started after Labor day but as time went on, districts all over the country started earlier and earlier,” Newman said.

Local Grossmont Union High School district, which includes Granite Hills, Steele Canyon and El Capitan high schools begins on Aug. 15.

“We don’t live in a vacuum. Our high school drives a lot and we don’t entirely follow everything the high schools do but we’re incredibly responsive to the community and one big push from parents was to align our district with the high school district so families can take time together,” Newman said.

After six years of sliding schedules, he said, AUSD now aligns with GUHSD so siblings in all grades will be on break during the same weeks, enabling shared family vacation time.

Although school districts across the nation, from Gardner Public School District in Massachusetts to Jackson County schools in Georgia to Los Angeles County Public Schools have all released statements suggesting earlier start dates allow for more teaching hours prior to state testing in spring, Newman said there is only a bit of truth to that possibility.

“With the state, you have a window in which you must test. Most schedule it as far to the end as possible so they have more opportunities to teach curriculum. Before the break, after the break, in reality you have a window and everyone pushes it depending on their calendar,” Newman said. The earlier start date is less of a factor because that testing window allows for flexibility.

Ideally, he said, a year-round schedule would be the best option.

“A more year-round schedule where students go in for two months at a time, then take a break, then another couple months would give students more opportunity to be academically inclined with the ability to take more frequent breaks and come back refreshed,” Newman said.

As it currently stands, he said, family vacations are typically geared around the school year, currently with summers off. A year-round schedule would open up different possibilities for vacations.

Regardless of when the school year starts, the superintendent said, the first day is always the happiest.

“People might be surprised but I will tell you: no matter what day it starts, the first day is always the happiest. Every year, kids say ‘I’m bored, I’m so glad to be back’. There’s a hope and joy from parents as well, you know ‘This is the year my kid is going to make friends and learn’ and meanwhile kids say it’s their year, the year they’re going to make friends and have fun,” Newman said.

Back to school so soon


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