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Caroline moves school year earlier next year

The Caroline County School Board voted unanimously last night to start the 2014–15 school year before Labor Day.

The August 20 start means that students could get out a month earlier, ending around May 20.

“Kids would have to go to school eight days earlier, but would get out a whole month earlier and it would be less working days for teachers,” said Madison district member Shawn Kelley.

Mary Anderson of the Western Caroline district said her constituents are concerned that the change comes after they have already made and put deposits on vacation plans for next summer.

“It can be handled on a case-by-case situation,” said Superintendent Greg Killough. “If there is any change then we’ll have to have some flexibility. We will have to make some concessions and work with them.”

He said those students should not be penalized, but administrators will have to make sure the work is made up.

Caroline is now eligible for a waiver from the state Department of Education to start before Labor Day because of the number of days missed over the past 10 years.

To be eligible, students must miss an average of eight days for five years out of the last 10 years.

In Caroline, the average number of days missed is now about nine days, said Assistant Superintendent Rebecca Broaddus.

This school year, Caroline students will finish on June 19. Days were added to the end of the school year because of time missed from inclement weather during the winter.

If school started in Caroline after Labor Day, on Sept. 2, classes would end on June 18.

Starting earlier would also mean that students would end the first semester before winter break and would take final exams before the holidays, Killough said.

“It’s a good schedule,” said board Chairman George Spaulding Jr. “It’ll just take some getting used to.”

Caroline County’s neighbor to the north, Spotsylvania County, used to start before Labor Day. But that division reverted to the later start like most public schools in the immediate Fredericksburg area.

The state law requiring schools to start after Labor Day is often called the Kings Dominion Law because tourism businesses requested the legislation to extend the summer tourism season. Those businesses also employ many teenagers in the summer months.

Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419


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