WESTPORT, Conn. – If some Westport parents had their way, the school year wouldn’t start until after Labor Day, a poll on the Westport Daily Voice shows.
When asked if the academic year should start after Labor Day, 70 percent of voters said “yes” while 30 percent said “no.” However, parents—and students—who favor the idea shouldn’t hold their breath for a post-Labor Day opening in the future.
“It’s our professional opinion that kids learn more at the beginning of the year than at the end,” Superintendent Elliott Landon said. “If we started after Labor Day, school wouldn’t let out until the end of June, when it’s hot and kids are thinking ahead to summer. The seriousness of learning then is far less than it is at the beginning of the year.
For more than 5,800 Westport students, summer ended Monday, a week before Labor Day. However, Labor Day is considered by many as the unofficial end to summer. That's why reader Christine Cullen said it would make more sense to start the school year after the holiday.
“I grew up in Westport with it starting after Labor Day, so I feel like the kids are getting a short summer,” Cullen wrote on the Westport Daily Voice Facebook page. “Life goes by too quickly and you are only a kid for so long. They should enjoy the time [because] then the competitive rat race begins.”
Reader Kirsten Woods had a different opinion. Although Woods said she dislikes starting the academic year before Labor Day, she said she has warmed up to it.
“I am all in favor of getting out early in June. You have to make the days up somewhere!” she wrote on the Westport Daily Voice website. “It is what it is.”
Many parents share Woods’ point of view and favor ending in early June versus starting a week later, Landon said.
Another issue with starting after Labor Day is scheduling. Westport has 182 days of instruction — two more than required by the state. Starting after Labor Day would bring the end of the year closer to June 30, the last day in which schools, by law, can be open, Landon said.
Another reason the district starts before Labor Day is to allow students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses at Staples High School more instructional time, he said.
“We have a lot of kids taking AP courses, and it’s a very difficult schedule follow,” Landon said. “Opening earlier provides those teachers and students a better opportunity to get through the full curriculum.”