Flap over Palm Beach County school start date - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Flap over Palm Beach County school start date

By Chuck Weber email

BOCA RATON, FL (WFLX) - This school year isn't even over. Yet the starting date of the next school year is what's become a sore spot for a number of Palm Beach County parents.

As the school board prepares set to vote on next year's calendar, some parents say they feel they've been blind-sided.

Jeff Goldstein, a West Boca father of three, says the summer is always a busy time for his family. A couple years back, Goldstein got involved with a group called Save Our Summers.

The group's goal was pushing back the start of school, to give families more time for summer activities. The group ultimately convinced the Florida legislature to limit the start of school to no earlier than two weeks before Labor Day.

This year with Labor Day falling on September 7, the earliest school could begin is August 24, right? Well, the Palm Beach County School District recently applied for, and got, a waiver from the state to start school a week earlier. The district said it wants the earlier start so the first semester can be finished before Winter Break. Students won't have to deal with a two week interruption prior to finals. An earlier start also works out better for teacher pay cycles.

But Goldstein says his family had already made plans based on a later school opening, as spelled out in the law he helped pass. "One of my children is going to 'sleep away' camp in the Catskills," he explained. The camp is scheduled to end on the same day classes are now proposed to start on August 18.

"I think giving two weeks as a buffer (to Labor Day) is more than enough," said Goldstein. "It seems they just want to go right ahead and skirt the law."

But other parents say they agree the School District is doing the right thing for education. In an e-mail to superintendent Art Johnson, Helen McAfee wrote, "I hope that the school board will not be persuaded otherwise, as I believe it is in the best interest of the students to start early."

The school board is expected to vote on the August 18 start date Wednesday afternoon during a workshop meeting at School District headquarters.

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