Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Oh, It's Just Me Frying an Egg on the Sidewalk

It's nearly 5:00 pm and the temperature on my shaded front porch is 99.3 degrees Fahrenheit.   (Hey, I'm a science teacher, so of course I'm going to tell you whether I'm talking Celsius or Fahrenheit!)  The heat index is supposedly 111 degrees.  Just about 50 miles north of here the heat index is supposedly 122 degrees.

And school starts on Friday.

Some school districts in the region are delaying opening school since they apparently don't have functioning air conditioning systems.  We, however, do have functioning air conditioning (cross my fingers) so we're going to go ahead and start.  I feel bad for the kids who ride the bus because they are definitely not air conditioned.   All outside activities are canceled, which is smart.  Actually I've been at The School the past few days and it's been rather comfortable.  So, if nothing breaks, we're good to go on Friday.

Still, there's some concern about the fact that we start school so early in August - the hottest month of the year.  (And there are some districts who start in late July!)  Some argue that we could save money by not having to air condition schools as they'd be unoccupied by students.  Others argue that we've taken away kids' summers, so much so that there's a political action group here called Save Our Summers who would like to see statewide legislation requiring that school cannot start prior to Labor Day. 

Personally, it really doesn't matter much to me when we start school.  In fact, I wouldn't even mind year-round school.  As long as I have enough time to teach content prior to The Very Big Deal Government Mandated Tests, I'm happy.

But it got me to wondering...readers, when do you start school?  Any of you teach/attend a year-round school?  What do ya'll think???

In the meantime, I may just go cook supper out on the sidewalk.  You know, save some electricity.


Mamie said...

We start on August 11th - crazy early, considering we live in the desert-y part of the intermountain west. August is HOT here - as in, 110 degrees is not uncommon! All our schools are air conditioned, of course.

We start so early because the powers-that-be in the district decided that we simply *must* end the first semester for the secondary schools BEFORE winter break. And then, they want the school year to end before Memorial Day.

Meanwhile, we get two days off in October ("fall break," conveniently coordinated with the opening of the deer hunt), two weeks in December, a week in March, and two days in April IN ADDITION TO federal holidays. I would rather have fewer of these disruptive "vacation days" and more time in the summer before the school year starts, but such is not to be.

Have a GREAT first day of school, Mrs. Bluebird!

Clix said...

We were scheduled to start in late July, but the state lopped eleven days off the start of our year (budget issues) so students will return August 16.

ChiTown Girl said...

My school went to a year-round schedule last year, as did many Chicago Public Schools. Our mayor has stated many times that he wants all CPS schools to be year-round in the next few years.

Yeah, well, here's the downside for us - we do NOT have air-conditioning in our building. Well, except, of course, in the principal's office!! You may know that I taught summer school this year, and it was MISERABLE!!!

We have 5 different year-round schedules currently for CPS. There is Track A, B, C, D and E. Our school is Track E, which I think is the easiest to understand. They simply took 4 weeks away from our summer vacation (making it a 6 week break instead of 10) and then spread those 4 weeks out during the year. We get a 2-week intersession in the fall. Last year, being our first year, I thought we were getting it much too early. (It came after the 7th week of school.) But, believe me, I could hardly wait for it!!! It was perfect. We had the last week of Sept. and the first week of Oct. off. It was still a little too warm for me, but it was much better than, say, July! I adore the fall, so the fall intersession, to me, is a great idea! (This year we'll be off from Sept. 24-Oct. 12)

Then, instead of our normal 2-week break for Christmas, we get 3. We had practically the entire month of Dec. off last year. (We got off a week earlier than the other CPS schools, but went back the same day.)

The 4th week is added to our spring break, which was awesome. We got the same week as everyone else, then the next week, too. This was PERFECT for me, because that second week was when my son was on spring break, so I got a week to myself, and a week for us to do things together.

Now, the downside to this was that we didn't get another day off until school ended (with the exception of Memorial Day) which for us was June 18. That's the same day the regular schedule schools got out, as well.

I have to say, as much as I dreaded it, last year's schedule was pretty nice. Between national holidays, teacher institute days, and professional development days, I don't think we had a full 5-day week of school with the kids from Halloween to spring break. We usually worked a 5-day week, but the kids had lots of days off. Eesh, I guess that sounds bad, huh? I'm just trying to be honest. :)

Summer school just ended for me last Friday, and our first official day back to work is tomorrow. The kids start school next Monday, Aug. 9. Last year, being our first year-round year, we had very low numbers for the first month of school. Our parents are used to school starting AFTER Labor Day, so some just didn't send their kids. I'm curious to see how the start of this year goes.

Sheesh, sorry for the epic novel. If it makes you feel any better, it's been crazy-hot here, too. I had to deal with triple-digit heat index readings during summer school in my UNairconditioned classroom!! :(

http://dkzody.wordpress.com said...

Our schools will start August 16. One week off for Thanksgiving (no fall break); 3 week for Christmas (and yes, we like the semester to end BEFORE Christmas break); one week for Easter and then we will end school around mid June. 180 days

A MilShelb Mom said...

Our kids start the 16th. We are required to go back the 12th (the 11th is a furlough day). Hope you have a great first day back! I'm with you, I think year-round school would be great... just think, go like 6 weeks and off one or 2. Awesome!

Elizabeth said...

We start after Labor Day, but it means we don't get out until late June. And not all of the schools are air conditioned, so if it is too hot, they cancel.

I actually attended school year round for a year in middle school in Florida. All of the middle schools and elementary schools went year round, but not the high schools. They did it to help with over crowding, so there were different tracks and at any given point, one or more tracks was on vacation. As a student, I loved it. We had a marking period, then a three week break...a marking period, then another three week break...and so on. Everyone still got at least a week for Christmas (though some got four if it coincided with their scheduled break), and if I remember correctly, everyone had at least four weeks for summer (maybe even six). I don't know how long the system lasted, but they don't do it anymore. I don't know why.

Mrs. H said...

I teach in Michigan and we have a state law that says we can't start until after labor day. We got out of school on June 12th. I'm with you - I don't really care when school starts and ends and be fine with year-round school too.

Tracey said...

I love year round school and have taught at one for 21 years...this is our last year....superintendent is making us go back to traditional....he doesn't like year round.

Kathie said...

I will go back Aug. 25th and the students begin Sept. 1st. As a private school, we don't have a lot of days off, just the mandated Federal holidays, two weeks at Christmas, one week for spring break, and an occasional half day here and there. We get out the 11th of June (I think). Frankly, we want our kids in school, reading, writing, learning. I don't want to sound all goody-goody, but I think continuous teaching time does make a difference. As a private school, we are not required to take the big gov't tests but we do take the Stanford Achievement Test. It is reasonable and because promotion is not attached to it, students don't freak out over it and they do quite well.

CozyStitches said...

In my large city, where we have multiple districts we start at varying times. One district is year round and started back in July. My children start the 12th of August, another district starts the 9th. I am student teaching and we start (with the kids) on the 16th, teachers (and ME) are to be there on the 11th. We have the same AC issues, and for us June is hotter, so we regularly start school in the mid to beginning of August. We are out in May. :D

Janae said...

Because of budget cuts, our school year got really shortened. We don’t start until September 1st, and we end on May 17th. The teachers have practically no work days. Teachers and students don’t start until September 1st. I don’t know how some of them are going to manage that, but I’ll be there as soon as I get my keys back! I would love year round school. It would be so much better for the kids, and frankly, three months is way too long a break for me, too!

HappyChyck said...

My children are on a year-round schedule, and their last day for the academic year is tomorrow. I can't even imagine how they have survived the heat all summer--it's been triple digits since mid-June.

As a way to cut budgets, all the schools are going back to 9-month next year. There are other costs associated with year-round, but I can't help but think that cooling isn't a really big one!

I've heard a lot of complaints, and had many of my own, about air conditioning issues in schools many times over the years. I hope things hold up at your school and that you can start the year off comfortably!

Ms Characterized said...

Post Labor Day school means we don't get out until June 25th. It is excruciating for us and the kids lose their minds. They can't get summer jobs. I can barely think for all their fidgeting after June 11. And the way the year breaks up, our second semester feels SO much longer than our first.

Weather is not an issue for us, which I'm grateful for, but I wouldn't mind starting even a week earlier -- if it mean our semester actually ended at winter break, not after it. In February.

maybaby said...

Sheesh. I'm feeling positively pampered. I'm at a private school. Students start Aug. 25th, teachers have meetings the week before, then we get classrooms set up. Then parent orientation, then meet the teacher events, then a few days off and then it'll be first day of school.

We don't have days off, and only take a couple of federal holidays off. We are out just before Memorial Day every year. The one thing I DON'T care for is that the secondary students go on multi-day field trips in October and the middle and high school are not in session...and teachers must go on the field trips, so we have four or five days in which we get to work 24/7 corralling students and a few parents in unfamiliar cities and trying to navigate and figure out how to get to the next scheduled activity.

I'd trade my teaching schedule for a school in which I didn't have to chaperone those d*mn field trips.

Chris Prout said...

We start after Labor Day and our last teacher day will be around June 21. After the Christmas holiday through Spring Break is the longest part of our year as there are almost no breaks.
Chris Prout

PamelaTrounstine said...

There are two pressures in K-12 districts in CA:
1) desire to get 1st semester over with before break
2) getting more instructional days in elementary grades before state tests.

Both have pushed school schedules up about a month from Labor Day in just a few short years.

My former summer birthday (my mom was a teacher too) next week is now a teacher workday... but I will admit now I wish I was working instead of being laid off.

Carmen said...

Our first contract day was yesterday and our kids start on the 18th, but they come in either the 16th or 17th for 30 min. so we can get beginning of the year literacy assessments done (DIBELS and DRA2).

I've been reading your blog for a little over a year now and I love the stories you tell about your kids. :)