I had contemplated writing this letter for several months and finally made the decision to do so now. My decision came as a result of recently finding out the start dates for the 2002-03 school year: Aug. 26 for staff, Aug. 27 for students.
In speaking with staff, parents and students over the last year, I have not found anyone who is in favor of school starting before Labor Day! As a parent, taxpayer and employee in the Grosse Pointe Public School System, I am taking the liberty to speak for all of us not in favor of the early start date.
The article printed last spring regarding the increase in student instruction hours now required by the state explained that elementary parents had been polled and preferred an early school year start as opposed to changing vacation schedules or extending the school day.
I sympathize with elementary parents when the situation of child care is an issue. As part of a household of two working parents, I understand completely how difficult arranging for childcare can be.
However, when you look at the actual issue here, there have not been any extra instruction days added to the school year as a result of the early start. The three extra days in August, the 28th through the 30th, that students attended school last year were actually offset by the extended holiday break, Dec. 24 through Jan. 4. We also still have the five-day mid-Winter break and the six-day Spring break with the school year ending June 13 for students.
Believe me, I am not complaining about time off. My point is that I, as well as those that I have spoken with, would prefer to have the extra week in August when the weather is great and people are still in summer vacation mode, as opposed to the extra time at the holidays or February when the weather is bad.
These times of the year usually require much more expense when it comes to vacationing, and for those of us who don't have the option to take off to warmer climates or ski trips, we can end up with some very bored kids.
The current scheduling gives us four weeks of vacation between mid-December and mid-April, while prior to that we have school for four months with only the two-day Thanksgiving break!
Also, those of us who have students attending high school in this district actually lose the last two weeks of August due to registration being the week before school starts.
Now would seem the time for us to re-evaluate other options for meeting the state's requirements regarding student instruction hours for the years to come. Please let our school board and/or superintendent know your feelings.