Parents, Students, Teachers Weigh In On School Calendar Debate

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Debate over the Sioux Falls School District calendar continues.

In 2015, voters decided to push the start date to after Labor Day.

But a recent study shows that may not be working out too well.

So the school district is asking parents, teachers and students what they would like to see for 2018-2019 school year.

“What I’m mystified is that calendar number one is the calendar we had that took it to a vote,” responds Sioux Falls resident Rhonda Lockwood.

During a community input session, the Sioux Falls School District presented three different calendar choices for the upcoming school year.

All had the start date landing before Labor Day on August 20, 22, and 23, since a recent survey showed parents wanted to go back to starting school before the holiday.

But that confused some parents.

“I think every side wants to compromise but that doesn’t appear to be a compromise to me at all,” explains Lockwood.

However, Assistant Superintendent James Nold says these calendars are just conversation starters.

“It is not that we are just trying to figure out which one are we going to take, one two or three because matter of fact calendar two is not going to work.”

One of the main concerns with the start date is when the first semester tests will fall for high school students.

With an earlier start date, those tests will fall before Christmas break.

With a later start, the tests will be taken after Christmas break.

“There are people who study over breaks and when they study over breaks it’s not a break anymore,” says Roosevelt High School senior Caroline Moriarty. “That’s just more homework time and that’s really detrimental on mental health.”

But one mom disagrees.

“I didn’t do work over Christmas break, [my kids] didn’t do work over Christmas break,” says Colleen Sorensen. “They did it when they went back, and did amazing on their tests.”

Some parents were also concerned an earlier start date would push graduation back to before Memorial Day, which would make it hard for extended family to attend.

There is one thing all 50 plus people who attended agreed on – they were happy the district is taking time to hear their opinions.

The district plans to take in all these suggestions and write up a permanent 2018-2019 calendar.

But the school board will have to vote on that before it is approved.

That vote is expected in April.

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