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Does School Start Date Matter?

August 23, 2006, 5:03 PM by Kelli Grant

Does School Start Date Matter?

More South Dakota schools started classes, others start Thursday.
But when it comes to educating your children, does the school calendar really matter?

A local group called "Save Our South Dakota Summers" pushed to get the school start date on the November ballot and they succeeded. While kids may want longer summer breaks, is it really what's best for them? Sioux Falls School Superintendent Dr. Pam Homan says no.

Kids in the Sioux Falls Public School System are close to finishing their first week of class. But this time last year, school hadn't even started.

Superintendent Pam Homan says the change allows them to get semester testing in before the winter break. "Two weeks later into January puts us two weeks later behind. Behind being able to get those first semester transcripts out when all the competition is just rolling for scholarships and meeting entrance criteria."

A member of "Save Our South Dakota Summers", Lorin Pankratz, says "I don't think there's any data out there that says that if you end your semester before Christmas your students are going to do better."

Those involved with "Save Our South Dakota Summers" say if a student doesn't remember what they learned before break, they never really learned it.

Pankratz says, "They wanna finish it because its easier. I don't know that there's a scientific reason or an educational reason that necessarily supports better tests scores."

The group is also concerned cutting into summer break will cut into summer jobs. Homan says that shouldn't be an issue.

Homan says, "Its not about when you start. The message is, and I'll make no apologies for it. We're not in the business to provide seasonal workers. We're in the business to see that we educate and prepare each student to succeed in a changing world."

The Sioux Falls School District has a calendar committee made up of parents, community, and school employees. They gather every year to decide when kids should go back to school. That date is then brought to the school board and superintendent and the final decision is made.

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