West Allis - The West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board has unanimously approved a 2017-18 school calendar, despite misgivings about starting the school year on Friday, Sept. 1.
By state law, Sept. 1 is the earliest date school districts are allowed to begin classes. In 2017, that date is the Friday before Labor Day weekend, causing board member Stephanie Emons to predict, "a lot of kids aren't going to show up on the first."
The schedule is not ideal, Superintendent Marty Lexmond conceded.
So why not tweak the schedule elsewhere?
In an interview afterwards, Lexmond said waiting to start classes until Sept. 5 "would push the school year one-day later," and create a similar problem at the end of the school year, by pushing the last day to Monday, June 11. Instead, the final day of classes for 2017-18 will remain Friday, June 8.
One alternative suggested briefly was to schedule Wednesday, Nov. 22, as a class day. But "families are expecting to have that Wednesday off," Lexmond said of the day before Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, Nov. 7 will be a professional development day for staff, with no classes. In even-numbered years, election day falls on a Tuesday in early November, and Lexmond said afterwards that the day was scheduled for 2017 "in order to get parents used to that pattern."
The real solution, Lexmond told the board, is convincing the state Legislature to allow districts to start classes before Sept. 1, He said he would join other districts in pushing for that change.
"We feel strongly this should be a matter of local control," he said after the meeting.