New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | December 8, 2019

Editorial: Kids are back in school, but should school be in session?

By Andre Jones | August 14, 2019 8:28 am

Believe it or not, it’s a new school year already. And while only some of the students in Charles City and New Kent are in the building for extracurricular activities, that may not be the case next year.

In July, legislation passed that will allow all schools to start before Labor Day next year. Known as the “Kings Dominion” law, only schools that received a waiver from appropriate agencies were allowed to start their educational session before the holiday. If they didn’t receive a waiver or elected not to go that route, schools started the Tuesday after the holiday.

The question that has been raised over the past few years is if schools should start before Labor Day. As with most debates, there are pros and cons for each issue. If schools started in mid-August, it could theoretically reduce the length of time in the classroom for a student, thus resulting in a more focused pupil and a shorter school day. Starting in mid-August would possibly lead to an earlier graduation date that could fall in mid-May. That change could provide families more opportunities to balance their vacation over summer hours and provide additional flexibility.

The counterbalance argument about starting earlier is that families who do vacation in late August would have to change plans to accommodate students. One of the main reasons why the “Kings Dominion” law reigned supreme for several years it provided the theme park, along with a number of businesses, to hire high school students during the summer. A start in September has always been a ceremoniously send off as families enjoy that one last four-day weekend before kids returned to school.

Local school systems are beginning to make a determination if that’s the route to follow for years to come. Several states (particularly south of us) have already started school, while a few schools west of Richmond will begin sessions as early as next week.

This topic has brushed our area briefly, as Charles City School Board at-large member Steve Fuhrmann has been a proponent for the earlier start. I don’t have qualms about if school starts in August or September. But if students are in the building as early as Aug. 1 during each school year, why not have school start earlier? That is one of the reasons that if schools start earlier, extracurricular activities would be more accessible to students. On the other hand, students who do work want that extra bit of cash for clothes or gas money when they do return to school.

I believe a public forum could be coming down the pipeline soon to garner feedback. But overall, as long as a student is receiving a quality education, it doesn’t matter when you start as long as each of those students finish strong.