DPS: 66 percent of nearly 7,000 survey respondents in favor of delayed school start

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Earlier this fall, we told you about a parent-led crusade to delay the start of public school in Denver until September to avoid the heat that plagued August. This agitating led to the creation of a task force to survey the community about its start-date preferences. The results are in -- and ready to be considered by the DPS school board at a meeting tonight.

Sixty-six percent of the 6,899 people who responded to the survey think the school start-date should be changed, according to results provided by Denver Public Schools.

To when, exactly? Results show 34 percent think school should start in the third week of August and end in the last week of May, while 29 percent think it should start in the fourth week of August and end in the first week of June. The biggest percentage -- 38 percent -- think it should start in the first week of September and end in the second week of June.

Those are the overall numbers. But a closer look at the survey results show that opinions differ between parents and teachers, as well as between English and Spanish speakers.

Seventy percent of parents think the start-date should be delayed, while only 58 percent of DPS employees agree. And while the majority of those who answered the survey in English -- 66 percent -- are in favor of a delay, the majority of those who answered in Spanish -- 54 percent -- are not. (Note: The number of surveys completed in Spanish was much lower than the number completed in English: 134 vs. 6,765.)

DPS spokesman Mike Vaughn says the DPS board will discuss the survey results tonight, but will likely not make a decision until sometime in January. There's a lot to consider, including the nearly 2,000 comments left by survey-takers.

Here is a sampling:

I grew up in Virginia. I think the students will be fine.

Possibly use "heat" days since we don't use all of our snow days.

Born in 1939, my dad's school used to have an electric fan with a huge block of ice in front of it on either side of the classroom. Each family was responsible for bringing in a block of ice each day, with a big pan to of course catch the water under each. It was very cost effective... and IT WORKS!

Teach students about global warming and polluting the planet.

Stop paying for standardized tests and pay for air conditioning instead.

Don't air condition 900 Grant and use the savings for swamp coolers.

There's an easy solution: keep windows open at night. Only a 98-pound contortionist could fit through most classroom windows. Larger windows could be protected by an alarm system. I don't have air conditioning at home and this works just fine.

Relax the dress code a bit to allow shorter shorts the first few weeks of school.

This is not an important conversation to be having right now... How about nutrition? Have you eaten a school lunch lately? Do you serve pink milk to your children?

As a fifth grade teacher, a very late start to school puts me significantly at a disadvantage when it comes to preparing my students for high achievement.

Sorry, I think this is ridiculous coddling of our kids. I and my children (now 21, 25 and 29) attended school on hot days, and that is simply a fact of life and nature. Kids have become very "soft" in general as I see example after example of their inability to "handle life," especially after high school.

More from our Education archives: "Charter school enrollment grows nationwide and in Colorado, which now has 82,200 students."

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2 comments
Cobutterfly2000
Cobutterfly2000

The survey also indicates that 62% of parents would prefer school to start sometime before Labor Day. 

Jgiese
Jgiese

As a teacher who taught in the Midwest for five years and in the deserts of Arizona for three, I can tell you from experience that the beginning of the year IS hot, as much so as the end of the year. The difference being that during the beginning months of a new school year, students are still excited to begin their new lives one grade older and have a much greater attention span and willingness to be at school. By the end of the year, students are much less motivated,exhausted, and are ready to be done. Add the much anticipated summertime sunshine, perfect playing conditions, and heat to that and you have a recipe for a school environment that borderlines misery for many. It will always be best to put up with the heat in the beginning than suffer through it in the end!

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