Kent County ISD, which includes 19 other school districts besides ours, requested and received approval to begin the school year prior to Labor Day. Many of you may recall that every school district in Michigan did so prior to 2008.
The reason for the waiver to begin prior to Labor Day is based on what our county believes is best for our students. There are a number of valid reasons for the change back to this earlier start date including alignment with local colleges that provide our students with early college and dual enrollment opportunities. We also believe that this is the beginning of a longer process of adopting a more balanced “year-round” calendar which would provide a shorter summer break and other breaks during the school year. One thing to remember, however, is that no matter how the calendar is structured, we are required by law to provide 180 days of school that include a minimum of 1,098 hours of scheduled instruction. This is true for all Michigan public and charter schools.
At the last Board of Education meeting, the Board approved a start date for students of Monday, August 21, 2017. We are currently in negotiations with our teachers and support staff as to the rest of the calendar, but I wanted you to have this date to be able to make plans for August. I can also tell you that school will end earlier in June than it has the past several years. I will get the full calendar out to you as soon as the new calendar is ready for Board ratification. I’m hoping that is as early as next week.
State law also requires the county to be on a consistent calendar for Thanksgiving, Winter and Spring breaks. Therefore, I can provide the following to you for any planning you might be doing over those holiday/vacation periods:
Thanksgiving Break: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, November 22 – 24, 2017
Christmas/New Year Break (Winter): Begins after school on Friday, December 22, 2017 and school resumes on Monday, January 8, 2018
Spring Break: Begins after school on Thursday, March 29, 2018 and school resumes on Monday, April 9, 2018
You may read or hear that other districts are starting later than us. That’s probably true as each district had different circumstances to consider for this coming year. Several already had contracts with their unions that included a calendar with a post-Labor Day start. Others have major construction issues going on in their districts that need more time this summer to be sure their schools are ready for students. The waiver from the state is good for three (3) years and it’s the intent of all districts to be on a similar county-wide calendar at some point during that period. Kent ISD KCTC, KTC, KIH and regional programs will begin the week of August 21.
Here are the links to a couple of local news reports about the early start decision. I do want to point out that they are not consistent with each other on some of the details regarding when different districts are starting, but they provide more rationale as to why this is a valid decision based on the needs of students.
I also thought you might be interested in two graphs that illustrate the average temperatures in June and August for the Grand Rapids area.