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School District wants input on school calendar

Should school start before or after Labor Day? What about holidays? The public has until Nov. 6 to weigh in.

Mayor Kenney speaks outside Muñoz-Marin Elementary School in Kensington on Aug. 27 to celebrate the start of a new school year.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The School District is beginning to develop its calendar for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, and it wants feedback from families, staff, and community members.

A four-question survey asks readers to rank, in order of importance, various factors that come into play when deciding when to start and end school, how religious holidays and professional development are accounted for, testing dates, and other concerns for students and educators.

This year, the District began school before Labor Day for the first time. Superintendent William Hite said the change was made so that schools could hit the ground running by starting with a full week of classes. But that goal was thwarted by the weather, as severe heat forced five unplanned half-days off during the first two weeks. And the situation drew attention to another environmental problem in many of the District’s aging buildings: lack of air conditioning.

The survey will be available to the public until Nov. 6. Anyone interested in participating can find it here.

According to a District statement, a Calendar Committee, made up of union leaders, parents, students, and community members, will meet later in November to review the survey data and draft possible versions of the calendar. The Board of Education’s Student Achievement and Support Committee will review the options at its meeting on Dec. 6, and the new calendar is expected to be finalized by the end of December.

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