Boca Parents are fighting to save their kid’s summer. The question of starting school on August 10th is on the table for the Palm Beach County School Board for both the 2020 and 2021 school years. There are over 170,000 kids and parents in the county that will be affected with this change. This includes over 15,000 City of Boca Raton students.
The school board previously approved a start date of August 12th for the 2020 and 2021 school years. However, the School Board found it difficult to squeeze in the required ninety school days to complete a full semester prior to the Winter Break. The decision was made to appoint a committee to explore alternatives. The recommendation was an August 10th start date. That is the earliest in the county since 2005 and the earliest allowable under State law.
Enraged Boca Parents Take over Meeting
The Palm Beach County School Board conducted a public workshop on June 5th to openly discuss the new start date with the public. It was well attended by Boca Raton residents who were very vocal in expressing their displeasure with the early start date. One Boca parent, Debbie Klingsberg who has twins at Calusa Elementary, explained the early start date would interfere with family vacations and summer camps. Eric Relkin of West Boca said “We start so early it’s completely insane.” Merideth Leeds of Boca called the plan “Ridiculous.” Other speakers discussed August being the hottest month of the year and in the height of hurricane season, which may put limits on the outdoor activities of students. The overriding sentiment by parents was that the August 10th date was punitive to both the students and the parents.
Voices That Favor the Early Start
There were others that spoke in favor of August 10th start date, including the SEIU and some teachers. The SEIU is the union that represents government employees, such as the bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors, and other hourly employees who were looking to avoid pay gaps. Some other justification for the early start date came regarding the issue of exams being held before Winter Break. Union President Justin Katz said “If you hold those exams after winter break you might as well cancel them.”
The Palm Beach County School Board Offers Some Suggestions
Mr. Frank Barbieri, Chairman of the School Board and resident of Boca Raton proffered the idea of cutting back two days of the full week of Thanksgiving vacation week and another two days off of the Winter Break. These ideas were well received by the parents. He shared his concerns in light of a petition “Vote NO to Aug. 10th Start Date” which now totals more than 1,700 signatures and counting.
It appears the Palm School Board is searching for the right solutions to accommodate as many constituents as possible. The next meeting is July 24th but this item is not yet scheduled. It’s not too late to offer them further encouragement.
Make your voice heard by calling and writing to your Boca representative Mr. Frank Barbieri Jr. He can be reached at Frank.Barberi@PalmBeachSchools.org or 561-434-7481.
For more information on this topic, see BocaFirst’s article Say NO and Sign the Petition: What happened to our kids’ summer?