A proposed calendar that opens Shenandoah County schools in early August — instead of after Labor Day — should be adopted by the county School Board next month.
The plan, announced by Superintendent Jeremy Raley this month, calls for school to start Aug. 7, 2017, and gives students a week off during the county fair. In the past, the fair has been the main stumbling block to changing the start date. The proposed calendar offers a compromise that recognizes the importance of the fair and the youth involved in it as well as the need to give all students enough time to adequately prepare for important state and national tests.
Opening school doors earlier would allow Shenandoah County students more prep time for the writing Standards of Learning assessment that takes place in October as well as the national Advanced Placement assessments. It also puts the end of the first semester in December. This is important because it allows students to be tested prior to the holidays when material they have learned is still fresh in their minds.
This year, Shenandoah County students had fewer days than students in surrounding counties to prepare for the fall writing SOL. Winchester students had nearly three weeks — a 20 days — head start on Shenandoah County to prepare for the SOL because the city schools opened Aug. 10, and Warren and Frederick schools started Aug. 17, giving their students 15 more school days.
The new calendar is also a plus for educators, who Raley says will be able to have more time for professional development and training during the school year.
We applaud the superintendent for coming up with a plan that makes sense.