Educators, politicians: give us a longer summer
Date posted: August 19, 2014
Re: School year calendars
People who have lived in Wyoming for any length of time can tell you summer is short here. Summer activities are at the mercy of weather patterns that do not necessarily fall in line with solstices and equinoxes.
Because of this, activities in multiple venues are often slated on the same dates. Residents and visitors alike must prioritize which events to attend. Some readers may be thinking, “and your point is…..?” Fair enough.
My point is that slating summer activities within the confines of the weather was difficult enough. Over the years, it has been made more difficult by the ever encroaching school year. As an aside, let me say, I am aware that school schedules vary by town and county; I am basing my correspondence on that of the Buffalo, Wyoming school calendar.
In the 2013-2014 school year, students were given 27 weekdays off for various reasons, a minimum of one per month in which school was in session (the maximum being seven in December including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Some of those days do not indicate why the students were off school. I still have my copy should anyone want proof. The cumulative days off serve to extend the school year into what should be summer vacation time. Accordingly, events like the Wyoming State Fair have moved to an earlier place in summer, pushing county fairs earlier — a domino effect.
Certainly some of the student days off were to “Teacher In-service” or “Professional Development” days, a requirement set by the State of Wyoming. While I do not remember these being apart of the school year when I was in school, I won’t say they aren’t necessary. However, I do believe the state could cut back the number required and/or see that they are slated during student summer and holiday vacations, stand-alone federal holidays, and weekends.
These simple alterations would allow the school year to begin after Labor Day and end before Memorial Day, with more student education days in the schedule than have been in recent years. Some current and former school board members can attest to this, as I once sent them a sample calendar I made demonstrating it.
Were the school year to start later and end sooner, naturally the Wyoming State Fair, various county fairs, and any number of other events would have a longer season for booking, allowing for fewer duplicate dates, in turn allowing the populace to attend and support a larger portion of activities.
This is my challenge to those in or running for state offices or school board positions: prioritize student education days during the school year, set teacher/faculty continuing education outside of student education days, and give Wyomingites our summers back.