SCHOOL’S OUT FOR (SOME OF) SUMMER?

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Today is the first day of school for Kanawha County and I, for one, am JUST. NOT. READY!

Back to School Circa 2011-2012

Back to School Circa 2011-2012

Sorry. Didn’t mean to yell, but- IT’S SUMMERTIME!

I don’t even think my kids are as ill-prepared as I am. Although, they did sleep until noon yesterday; maybe that’s an indication they’re not totally ready for the school year. (Probably, because IT IS STILL THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER!)

I have not even sorted all of their clothes into a “fits/doesn’t fit” pile since THEY SHOULD STILL BE WEARING BATHING SUITS AND FLIP FLOPS for a couple of more weeks and THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO THINK ABOUT NEW TENNIS SHOES AND JEANS!

The clock ran out on us before I had the chance to dip-dye my daughter’s hair pink on the ends; before I had the chance to implement a “prepare for school” study regimen; before we even had the chance to get to the beach, or Ikea, or a major league baseball game!

School board: I NEED MORE TIME!

I have always been, and will always be, a summer person. I love the heat, the long days, and the chance to slow down a bit. Usually, though, as August draws to a close, even this die-hard hot weather girl is ready for brisk mornings, sweaters, college football, and a more structured routine. Now that school is starting early, I’m all confused: up is down and black is white. I’m telling you, this year’s school calendar is hindering my ability to flow naturally from season to season.

Of course, when the calendar came out in December and the early start was announced, rumors flew that the change was a way to prepare teachers, kids, and parents for a move to year-round schools. Kanawha County has not been on a year-round schedule except for four of its schools, but in 2011, then WV School Superintendent Jorea Marple went on record advocating a year-round schedule for all counties. As of now, no permanent change has been announced and, actually, the vote to start school early was a fairly close one: 3-2 in favor of starting at a time that would allow the semester to end before the Christmas break.

Personally, up until now, I have been cautiously optimistic about a year-round schedule. When I lived in California in the 90s, the vast majority of public schools were year-round (or, on a “balanced schedule”). Of course, I was all of 21, so I really didn’t care what the little hooligans did all year, or when they did it as long as it didn’t affect my tan. But, when I became a parent, I could see the potential benefits of a year-round schedule: better knowledge retention and a more consistent routine. Also, I understand that so many kids in West Virginia count on school breakfasts and lunches for better nutrition. When more than half of our state’s kids are living in poverty, it seems sort of a no-brainer to keep them in school and well-fed.

So, I was surprised to find myself whining and complaining so much as today drew near. I had considered myself pretty open-minded and flexible about the schedule, but- man- you should have heard me grumbling through haircuts, back-to-school shopping and the inevitable South Hills traffic snarl. I didn’t realize cutting summer short by just a couple of weeks would get me in such a funk. Are my concerns mostly just selfish annoyances? Am I hanging onto an outdated ideal of what summertime is supposed to be for kids? After all, giving kids a “break” wasn’t the original intention behind summer break- it was more about getting them to bale hay, right?

What do you think, Readers? If you have kids in Kanawha County Schools, are you as flummoxed as I am? Do you think this is a lead-up to a balanced schedule? And, if so, how do you feel about year-round schools? I want to know what you think!

In the interim, I’ll be at the pool, or raking leaves, or whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing in this transitional season.

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