CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Most West Virginia teachers don’t seem to mind the earlier start to school. Wayne and Cabell County students arrived for class on August 8th. On Thursday, August 22, 19 counties, the last in the state, started school.

It’s been two years since the Department of Education gave the school systems the ability to set their own start date in order to get in those required 180-days of classroom instruction time.

Christine Campbell, the President of the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers, said there’s a big benefit to starting early.

“I think [teachers] are appreciative of getting in there and having more instructional time,” according to Campbell.

One of the major benefits of starting early is finishing up early. Twelve counties will end the first semester before Christmas break. That gives students and teachers a worry-free holiday. It also means an early out in the spring. Kanawha County will be the first to start their summer vacation, if they’re not bogged down by snow days, on May 16. Six other counties will wrap up classes before the end of May as well.

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said there are a lot of positives to starting early but there are some negatives as well. One of those is parents who aren’t willing to cut their summers short.

“The concern has been absenteeism in the beginning of school. There are some people who haven’t finished their vacations,” said Lee. “It just takes a while to get everyone in the community and parents used to an earlier start.”

Lee believes some counties may follow in Cabell and Wayne’s footsteps and begin classes early in August. But he stresses in others, like Greenbrier County, for example, that’s not likely to happen. The first week of August is the State Fair of West Virginia. Lee said the entire county is wrapped up in the event, including kids. That’s why school started in Greenbrier County August 22nd.

The Department of Education has given school system the ability to set their preferred date. Lee stressed that gives counties the ability to set a start date that best fits their needs.

“I think it’s very important that the county boards listen to the community and listen to the parents and make those decisions based on everyone being at the table and having the discussion.”

Fayette, Tucker and Wood Counties have the latest end of school date on June 11.

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Comments

  • a concerned educator

    Joe

    First of all, I do not take offense to your question.

    Teachers must do a considerable amount of excess paperwork. Some teachers must complete IEP's for students with disabilities (these often take over an hour per IEP), some teachers must record all behavior problems via a computerized system, some teachers must complete Medicaid billing paperwork for any student who is eligible, and teachers must complete a lot of paperwork for a technology program called Tech Steps. Teachers are not given additional release time to complete the above work. This is in addition to lesson plans, grading, and a myriad of other duties teachers have.

    The general public has no idea what teachers have to do each day. I truly believe that most people would be shocked at how much is required of a teacher. At my spouse's school, you can almost always find teachers working on the weekends, and I know that my spouse works a lot at home, as well as during the summer so that her students can be as successful as possible. My spouse is not someone who complains about pay or the time she puts in. She is in the profession for the kids which is why all teachers should teach. However, when work is added on top of more useless work, teachers, or workers in any profession get frustrated.

    Anyone who wants to cut down teachers should walk a mile in their shoes. I bet a million dollars that they would have mighty sore feet by the end of the day.

    Matt,

    The reason I mentioned Finland in my response was because many people at the WV Dept. of Ed. want to compare us to the Finnish Education System. In addition to the 170 day school year, students in Finland have a shorter school day, and teachers receive 140 hours of inservice training each year. In WV, teachers receive 18.

  • Jeffrey

    Idiots have moved up the start dates without adjusting the age cutoff dates. Specifically, we now have 3 year olds starting PreK and 4 year olds starting kindergarten.

  • a concerned educator

    If you look school calendars from Finland, you will find that students only attend 170 days of school per year. In addition, I believe that the earlier start will have a major impact on the finances of city, county, and state parks, as families will be unable to visit pools, parks, etc. Kanawha County's park system lost a lot of money this summer. They blamed it on the weather, but school there also started on August 8 or 9. This had to have a bearing on their finances.

    Let's go back to a school calendar that starts after Labor Day and ends June 8. If teachers were left to teach, and not to do a bunch of useless paperwork, they could get the information covered that students truly need.

    • Joe

      I guess here's another question....

      What useless paperwork do the teachers need to do? Not sure what you mean.

      Joe

      • Brian

        Wow...... you ever had a job Joe???
        I wonder!!!!
        I own a business and do HUNDREDS of hours of essentially "usless" (in the grant scheme of things) paperwork a year. My guess is Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers, Accountants, etc., etc., etc do useless paperwork everyday if they are honest. I also bet Coal miners, construction workers, and service folks do useless actitivies, meetings, "training" as well.
        Maybe teachers had to do idiotic paperwork concerning YOUR arrogant know-it-all kids while you sat at home collecting your monthly hand-out???

        • Joe

          Again, Brian....a completely out of line comment. I simply asked a question. But I do agree with you, most, if not all jobs require the completion of useless paperwork. I don't, however, read or hear about that continually as to why a job can't be don't to objective.

          No, I am not receiving any federal or state financial support, but do have a sister who is a social worker of 17 years who does receive some in addition to her salary. You seem to have a problem with that? Any other insults you want to send my way, go for it. You sound like a real tough guy.

    • Matt

      Finland? Really. The only people in Kanawha county that are complaining about the early start dates are the stay-at-home moms who have nothing else to do in the summer but go to the pool and the teachers. This is 2013 not 1953. The times have changed.

      • susanf

        I highly doubt that the "only people who are upset are the stay at home moms who have nothing else to do but go to the pool". And besides that, most stay at home moms have plenty to do and very little time to lounge at a pool.

  • Joe

    Why do teachers care about the early start? I thought, according by previous article comments, teachers were on what they term "forced unemployment". So which is it?!

  • Parent

    I am for the early start dates, it only makes sense. Due to the fact that WV weather is unpredictable and to get 180 days of instruction it is the way to go. It may take awhile to adjust but it is for the best. I have only heard complaints from football coaches who think it is only about them. I have not heard complaints from students.

    • susanf

      Yeah, sure. Except that the ending date will never turn out to be as early as promised due to all the days that have to be made up because of snow, floods, etc. It makes no sense.

    • Micha

      Parent, Have you ever thought that the morons making the laws in Charleston attended WV schools back in the day when no one ever went 180 full days...just like now. They seemed to have turned out ok and made something of themselves. The problem with kids today is not that they may fall four or five days short of 180 days...the problem is at home. They have no guidance and positive adult supervision. They think that teachers need to be the ones parenting instead of the parents. Everyone is penalized.....teachers, students, bus drivers, adminstrators!

      • Joe

        Quick question to all....

        What percentage of students overall is being used as an estimate for coming from homes where parenting is an issue? Not sure if I have ever seen that estimate although from comments it seems implied it is a high percentage.

        Joe

  • WV Teacher

    The majority of teachers, parents, and students are not happy about the early start dates. I wonder where they received their information for this article. I would love to see a poll about the early start dates.