Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

June 27, 2013

An end to steamy school-year ends

The Andover Townsman

---- — It’s ironic that the wrath of this past winter has forced Andover’s students to endure record heat during their final week of school.

But five snow days coupled with last September’s post-Labor Day start extended the school year until Friday, June 28.

Students and teachers have had to remain in class through this week to meet the mandated 180-day state requirement for the school year.

If there hadn’t been a special arrangement to hold school on Good Friday, which is typically a vacation day, and if Andover High School students, who missed a sixth day of class this year because of a January gas leak, hadn’t been forced to attend one Saturday session this spring, the school year could have potentially extended into July.

There are plenty of arguments that students in this country don’t spend enough time in school, that they’re lagging behind their counterparts in other countries.

But most of our schools are not equipped for year-round study. And 90-plus-degree temperatures aren’t particularly conducive to quality education taking place.

Andover Education Association, the teachers union, was right in requesting that the School Committee start next school year before Labor Day. Typically, students in Andover do not report to school until after the holiday. And the School Committee acted correctly in approving their proposal.

The change will mean school next year will get under way more than one week earlier than it did this past year.

The 2012-2013 calendar had students arriving for their first day of classes on Thursday, Sept. 6. Under contract, teachers arrived two days earlier on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Next school year, students will report on Wednesday, Aug. 28, with teachers getting settled two days before them, on Monday, Aug. 26. School will then be closed on Friday, Aug. 30, to allow everyone to enjoy an extra-long Labor Day weekend, before returning back to the classroom on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The change will be difficult the first year. With students getting out of school so late this year, they’ll barely have two months before they’re back in the classroom. Some summers, they enjoy a 10-week or longer break.

But they’ll still have eight weeks to soak in the sun, play and recharge. And let’s face it, after eight weeks of lolling around, it’s time for most students to get back to a routine.

The reward will be when June 2014 rolls around and students and teachers are out of school as early as June 16, barring no snow days. Even with five snow days, they’ll still finish up June 23.

If that had happened this year, students and teachers would have avoided attending the final week of school in the midst of a heat wave. And we imagine few among them wouldn’t have been happy about that.