School days or still in summer haze? Start dates vary, reasons too

New staffers in the Northmont school district take part in orientation day in early August, 2021. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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New staffers in the Northmont school district take part in orientation day in early August, 2021. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Depending on where you live in the Dayton area, today could be the first day of school, or you could have almost a whole month of summer break left.

Lebanon, Kettering, Northmont and Jefferson Twp. are the first local public school districts to welcome students back to classes, mainly on Thursday.

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In Lebanon, grades 7 and 9 started Wednesday, so they could have a quiet first day of junior high and high school, respectively, without other students around. The other students in those schools start Thursday, and Lebanon’s elementary school students start Friday.

Kettering’s grades 1-10 start Thursday, again giving high school freshmen and sophomores a calmer day before juniors and seniors join them Friday at the 2,300-student high school.

Northmont officials said their annual decision to start early is not so much about August, but about January.

“By finishing the first semester before winter break, our students don’t have to come back and immediately take exams after two weeks of break (amid snow-day threats),” Northmont spokeswoman Jenny Wood said. “It works really well to do it that way, and the students really appreciate it.”

Kettering schools also cited semester break timing for their early start, adding that the move also puts more instructional days before spring state testing.

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There is no uniform approach to K-12 school start dates nationwide. In Indiana, several school districts started classes as early as July 28-29, and the vast majority will have started by this week. In New York state, many schools start Sept. 7-13 and hold classes until June 23-27.

Every few years, an Ohio legislator introduces a bill that would require schools to start after Labor Day and end by Memorial Day. The tourism industry likes those proposals, but they have never become law, as legislators prefer to let schools make local decisions that are best for their community.

A handful of Dayton-area charter schools started Monday through Wednesday, and a pair of local career tech centers also get back to work this week.

At Kettering’s Greenmont Elementary, kids will be posing for mom’s “first day” pictures Thursday. But just two miles up Woodman Drive, Mad River students will be at the pool, the park, summer jobs or just sleeping in. They start school Sept. 7.

The busiest back-to-school week in the Dayton area is Aug. 16-20, with more than half of local districts starting classes then.

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A variety of factors play into when local schools start classes. Bethel, Covington, Milton-Union and Troy Christian are among several Miami County schools that start Aug. 23-26.

“We tend to maneuver our start date around (Miami County) fair week,” Milton-Union Superintendent Brad Ritchey said of the event that runs Aug. 13-19 this year. “And the end of the school year is largely based on long-held traditions surrounding graduation.”

Mad River, Piqua, Valley View and Greenon don’t go back to classes until Sept. 7, the day after Labor Day.

Mad River recently moved to a post-Labor Day start and pre-Memorial Day finish by adding 30 minutes to each school day. Superintendent Chad Wyen said the compacted schedule allows more time to adjust to new laws passed in late June, and more time for teacher/staff training. There was also a financial angle.

“Our new teachers do not get paid until Sept. 15 (because) we are on a 24-pay cycle,” Wyen said. That meant (with an August start) they essentially worked a little over a month prior to receiving their first paycheck, creating a hardship for new staff coming into the district.”

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Brookville is one of a dozen school districts starting Aug. 18, and Superintendent Tim Hopkins said district parents appreciate the consistency of knowing school will generally begin about the third week of August every year.

New Lebanon schools begin that same day, and Superintendent Greg Williams said families don’t want to start any earlier because of family vacations and other summer activities.

Dayton was the school district that had the most disrupted summer. Last school year, amid COVID disruptions, the district decided to totally close schools between Thanksgiving and Christmas, then extend classes through June 29. After a seven-week summer, classes will resume Aug. 18, “to ensure no instructional time is lost,” Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said.

In most school districts, the annual calendar is devised by a committee of administrators, teachers, support personnel, and parents before being approved by the school board.


FIRST DAY OF CLASSES

NOTE: Schools listed with multiple dates start different grade levels on different days.

Aug. 9 — Horizon Science Academies

Aug. 10 — Emerson Academy

Aug. 11 — DECA schools, Pathway School of Discovery, North Dayton School of Discovery

Aug. 11-12 — Warren County Career Center

Aug. 11-13 — Lebanon

Aug. 12 — Kettering, Northmont, Jefferson Twp., Legacy Christian

Aug. 12-13 — Miami Valley Career Tech Center

*** WEEKEND ***

Aug. 16 — Miamisburg, Trotwood-Madison, Franklin, Carlisle, Twin Valley, Spring Valley Academy

Aug. 16-17 — Beavercreek

Aug. 17 — Xenia, Springboro, Carroll HS

Aug. 18 — Dayton, Centerville, West Carrollton, Brookville, New Lebanon, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek, Greeneview, Cedar Cliff, Greene County Career Center, Tecumseh, Preble Shawnee, Tri-County North, Dayton Christian, Miami Valley School, Dayton Regional STEM School, Fenwick HS

Aug. 19 — Huber Heights, Vandalia-Butler, Fairborn, Tipp City, National Trail, Alter HS, Chaminade Julienne HS

Aug. 19-20 — Upper Valley Career Center

*** WEEKEND ***

Aug. 23 — Yellow Springs, Newton, Eaton

Aug. 24 — Northridge, Bethel, Covington, Lehman Catholic

Aug. 25 — Oakwood, Milton-Union, Miami East, Bradford

Aug. 26 — Troy Christian

*** WEEKEND ***

Aug. 31 -- Waynesville

*** WEEKEND ***

Sept. 7 — Mad River, Valley View, Piqua, Greenon

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