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Denver school board approves school-start date of late August, seeks heat-days plan

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A calendar pushing Denver Public Schools’ start date later by a handful of days was approved by the Board of Education on Thursday night.

“Changing the school start date is not going to be the solution for the heat, we all know that,” said board member Anne Rowe. “What it did do, I think, is set the stage for a much larger discussion around the school year, with regards to how that works in the best interest for students. That is a robust discussion.”

Superintendent Tom Boasberg was asked to commit to presenting the board with a plan for issuing heat days, which would work in the same way as snow days, by the board’s March meeting.

The calendar option approved in a 6-1 vote will have students starting school on Aug. 27 and ending June 4. That calendar would see a later winter break — from Monday, Dec. 24, returning to class Jan. 8 — and would shrink no-contact days, when teachers evaluate assessment data, to three days in the year.

During a discussion Thursday prior to the vote, board members considered various amendments to the calendars and weighed issues of sport schedules, test-preparation time and day care as they would be affected by the calendar changes.

Board member Andrea Merida, who voted against the calendar, attempted first to introduce an amendment to allow schools without air conditioning to choose their own start dates anytime up to Labor Day. That amendment failed with only Merida approving it.

In a public-comment session before the vote, four student representatives of the district’s student board of education talked about their preference for a calendar year to start Aug. 23.

The student board members conducted a poll at various high schools asking students about their preferences.

According to their poll, 75 percent of students wanted to start Aug. 23, compared with 11 percent who would have liked school to start after Labor Day.

A heat wave that coincided with the beginning of this school year in mid-August left students and teachers dealing with 90-degree heat in classrooms without air conditioning.

At least three incidents of heat-

related illness were reported in the first week of school.

Parents had gathered and delivered more than 3,000 signatures asking DPS to start the school year after Labor Day.

DPS then created a task force of parents and teachers to design and distribute a survey that was available online for nearly three weeks in November.

Respondents were almost evenly split among three options: no changes, starting in the fourth week of August, and starting in the first week of September.

In other board action, three new schools received innovation status for their opening this fall. Also, Trevista ECE-8 was approved to begin a turnaround — in which a new principal will be hired, staff will have to reapply for their jobs, and the school will get additional federal funds and flexibilities to design a program for improvement.

Yesenia Robles

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Comments
  • comment avatar Steven B January 20, 2012

    Interesting read.

  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck January 20, 2012

    I personally don’t have a problem with a later start date because that is how I was raised. We’d end late-June and go back after Labor Day. It seems strange to me to go back in the middle of August when summertime is still in full swing!

  • comment avatar JoAnn January 20, 2012

    Personally, I prefer the JeffCo calendar where they get out before Memorial Day. The thought of going to school in June is just weird. Back in the Midwest, if we went to school in June, it was considered punishment for the snow days we’d incurred in the winter! 😉

  • comment avatar Carissa January 20, 2012

    As someone who worked for DPS, I think its great! The class rooms get soooo hot and all you get is a open window & a fan to move the hotair! The kids & teachers are hot and its hard enough to get them to focus w/o the heat.

  • comment avatar Gretchen January 22, 2012

    I think school should start the Tuesday after Labor Day, period. A friend from MN says it’s state law there.

  • comment avatar Loelle January 22, 2012

    Jealous.

  • comment avatar Christine January 22, 2012

    Yeah, I could go for after Labor Day. Growing up, we started the Weds BEFORE (mountains of CO) and then off on Monday.

    As far as heat, we lived down South for eight years, and they had districts in TN that started July 31st that weren’t year round! You wanna talk hot?? That was purely nuts, as far as I’m concerned.

  • comment avatar Misty January 22, 2012

    I can’t believe there are schools without air conditioning. That’s absolutely absurd.

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