Written by Portia Smith, Marketing Manager of Boca and Delray magazines.
Palm Beach County School District decided to eliminate early release and late start days in the newly approved school calendars for the 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years. It replaced the half days by closing schools and District offices for a full week during the Thanksgiving holiday break instead, which incidentally will save the school district around $175,000.
This can be a lifesaver for parents who often struggle to either pick their kids up early (around 11:30 a.m. for elementary or middle school students), or scramble to drop them off for the late start days (10:30 a.m. for high school students). Parents like me used to try to figure out this balancing act all while juggling their work schedules.
As a mother of a fifth- and second-grader, I dreaded the days my kids would utter the words “Mom, tomorrow is a half day.” I knew what went along with that. My day then morphed into going to work, leaving work early, and brainstorming with my husband to see what we would do with the kids in the meantime. We often played a parental game of “you’re it” that definitely wasn’t as fun as it sounds.
Well, not anymore.
Instead of driving all over town on your lunch break, parents can rest (or work) easy knowing that their kids will start and end at the same time more or less year-round. Now parents just need to figure out accommodations for their children during the Thanksgiving break instead.
Superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa stated in a recent press release, “In listening to the issues that our schools were facing, we found that there was a high absenteeism rate on those half days and in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. This will hopefully address this issue and promote attendance.” He goes on to say, by approving calendars three years in advance, families can better plan and manage trips and schedules around the days off. The 2017-18 school year’s start and end dates will stay the same.
It seems as if teachers like the recent revision as well. Dr. Kathi Gundlach, president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association, said in the release that teachers have reacted positively to the change, as well as those from the Board of Directors and representatives of their organization’s assembly.
So far, Miami-Dade and Broward County schools have not adopted this change. Let’s see if Palm Beach County schools will be trendsetters for eliminating what most view as an inconvenience.
Click here to see upcoming Palm Beach County school calendars: