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Old 09-17-2007, 06:44 PM   #1
Jesse
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Later Start to School?

Some folks think it's too hot to start school in early August.

When area schools started class the first two weeks of August, parents, teachers, students and bus drivers complained temperatures were too high for children to be in classrooms, gyms and buses without air conditioning.

Now Caddo Parish School Board members Charlotte Crawley and Dottie Bell have asked the board to consider naming a start date for the 2008-09 school term the Monday before Labor Day.

The board could vote on the matter during its next meeting, on Sept. 18.

"We're asking that school start next year not prior to the fourth Monday in August," Crawley said. "We could possibly save money on our utility bills, and it's a health risk to be in extreme heat."

Bell, who along with Crawley is a retired teacher, said August heat made it difficult for bus drivers who steer buses without air conditioning and for students and teachers to be in classrooms or gyms without cool air circulating.

"When it gets hot like that, you can't do anything but turn on a fan or open the window," she said. "And it gets too hot out there and nobody wants to do anything."

Getting in enough instructional time before the state-mandated LEAP and iLEAP tests is a major determining factor when scheduling the start of school.

Since the school systems don't control the March testing period or the weather, they choose to start school earlier so they'll have enough instructional minutes before the test, said Rodney Watson, interim superintendent of Caddo schools.

This school term, the standardized tests will be given March 10-14. In 2009, the test will be given a little later, during the week of March 16-18.

"We are sympathetic to this, so please don't get it confused, but we do have determining factors when it comes to setting a start date," said Tammy Phelps, board member.

Crawley said there were several creative ways to get in enough teaching time before the tests, like adjusting break schedules and adding more minutes to the school day.

"We need to look at all the positive in Caddo and I think this will be a positive."

The board could vote on the matter during its Sept. 18 meeting.
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