Mark Your Calendar

State law affects school start and end dates

Landyn Goldberg

School will look different in the future, as the 2020-21 school year brings change for schools in the state of Missouri. Schools can now no longer start two weeks prior to Labor Day.

This rule isn’t necessarily new. Schools were only allowed to start early if they held a meeting with the state education department. The new rule just abolishes this meeting.

“For several years, they’ve said you can’t start earlier than 14 days prior to the first Monday in September,” said David Tramel, the coordinator of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for Missouri. “Along with that, they’ve allowed districts to have a meeting or hearing or a school board meeting to provide the community to hear that, and the local school boards could opt to start before that date, as long as they have a hearing or meeting with their patrons. That’s the piece that’s been taken out, the ability for the local districts to have that meeting and start earlier.”

This also eliminates past consistency in start days.

“It’s going to impact every year differently,” said Mitsi Nessa, the director for secondary curriculum for the NKCSD. “As you know, sometimes Labor Day falls on September 1, and sometimes it falls on September 7. So, when you talk about that, you’re talking about where North Kansas City had done a pretty good job over the past number of years at being kind of a consistent expected start date. We always knew it would be around August 13, 14, 15, something around there. Whereas now, Labor Day is going to mess with that.”

With a later start date comes a later end date. North Kansas City School District tried to keep similar numbers of school days while still being within the confines of the new law.

“In the current calendar, we have I believe 177 days of school scheduled. Next school year, just the way it works out, there’s 176,” said NKCSD school board vice president Paul Harrell. “What it does do is it pushes the last day of school out further into the month of May.”

With the school year already being pushed back further, the chance of school being pushed into the beginning of June grows because of unplanned days off, such as snow days.  Liberty Public School District has adopted a new policy for students on snow days known as flexible learning day. Students are now expected to use their devices for online school once they reach a certain number of snow days.

“Students and/or families would receive an email from their respective principal and/or teachers that would provide information on classwork/projects/activities to be completed at home on these days,” said Liberty Director of Communications Dallas Ackerman in an email to Liberty families.

NKCSD has been looking into the possibility of doing the same. The idea is being experimented with during the days at home caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think in our one-to-one environment, and especially with this new territory we’re navigating now and trying some things out, I think it has potential,” said Nessa.

The major issue is making sure every student in NKCSD has internet access.

“We have a very diverse student population, and some of our kids have internet access. and some don’t, so when you talk about a virtual learning day, that’s a reality for some but a struggle for others,” said Nessa.

As the 2020-21 school year approaches, it is expected to start Aug. 24, 2020, and end May 28, 2021.