There is a huge uproar going on around the state, and including my community, about the fact that we start school before Labor Day. This has been brought on by the fact that we have pretty much shattered just about any record ever set having to do with heat in the month of August. Thanks to one of my new blog links, Category Five (a blog put out by the folks at the National Weather Service in Nashville), it's easy to check out all the records we've broken. Or to figure out how darn miserable the weather really is just in case you haven't figured that out already.
Here's a run down...31 consecutive days over 90 degrees, 15 days at 99 and above, seven consecutive days at 100 or higher. There's a lot more, but you get my drift.
The result is Metro Nashville schools were pretty much on half days most, if not all, of last week, and some counties shut down schools altogether for Thursday and Friday. Our district stayed open and on regular hours, probably because we have a kickbutt maintenance staff and our AC was working great. In fact, it's so cold in my room, and the kids keep complaining about it. I just tell them to bring a sweater and keep it in their lockers since we really don't have any control over how hot or cold it is in our rooms, as we're in the old part of the building. After last summer when the AC didn't work until the day before school started, I'm not complaining. I'm still being thankful.
However, I don't have to get on a hot bus and ride home in the afternoon when it's 105 outside, and I also don't have to walk home in the same dreadful conditions. Many parents are, understandably, having melt-downs because their kids are suffering in the heat as the buses are not, obviously, air conditioned.
The local paper had a survey that asked "Do you think that the District should put air conditioning on school buses?" The answer was something like 68% in favor. However, I contend that if the question had been worded, "Are you willing to pay higher taxes so the District could put air conditioning on school buses?", the response would have been significantly lower.
So the debate is raging - we should start school after Labor Day. I have no problem with this and could care less one way or the other. When I grew up in Los Angeles, we started school towards the last two weeks of September and got out in the middle of June. Up in Ohio we started the week before Labor Day. Here, we start around the 8th of August, which means most teachers are actually starting to work in their rooms in late July. Some of the reasoning given about why we start so early is it means the high school kids don't have to study for semester exams over the winter break, seniors can get their transcripts faster, people don't like to be in school past Memorial Day and honestly, September can be pretty amazingly hot as well. The big reason, however, in my eyes is the amount of time we have to prepare for our Very Big Deal State Mandated Tests, which are in April. If they scheduled them in May, which I wish they'd do because the kids think they're done after the tests, it wouldn't be an issue. But as it is, that August start date gives us nearly 3 solid weeks of instruction before Labor Day.
So readers and fellow teachers...when do you start school? And how does your public feel about it?