Kent ISD gets pre-Labor Day waiver for 3 years

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Education has given the Kent Intermediate School District the option to start before Labor Day for the next three years.

The pre-Labor Day start waiver was granted during a public hearing Tuesday evening.  

At the hearing, KISD Superintendent Ron Caniff explained the goals and benefits of starting the school year prior to the holiday weekend. 

Caniff said starting early, or frontloading the schedule, means students get more instructional time at the beginning of the year, rather than at the end when standardized tests have already been taken.  

“The days in June are maybe not as powerful a learning opportunity as maybe the days in August and September when energy is a little higher,” Caniff said. 

Other goals of a pre-Labor Day start are to boost enrollment in summer and early/middle college learning opportunities. 

During the hearing, KISD presented the results of a recent survey sent to parents asking their preference on the topic.  The question asked, “Do you support starting the 2020-201 school year prior to Labor Day…?” Out of 10,281 responses, 52% were in favor, 42% opposed and 7% had no preference.  

Parents opposing the early start spoke during the hearing.  

“Abiding by Michigan’s law for the post-Labor Day start makes tremendous sense for Michigan’s tourism economy,” parent Sarah Taylor said. “Beyond that, it provides a logical time frame for students, families and teachers to transition from summer mode to school mode on a consistent calendar basis.” 

After hearing comments from the public, a Michigan Department of Education representative announced the waiver was approved. 

Another topic of conversation at the hearing was whether parents preferred starting one or two weeks prior to Labor Day. The survey results presented showed 46% prefer beginning two weeks prior to Labor Day, 40% prefer one week and 14% with no preference.  

Just as all KISD districts may choose to implement the waiver at their discretion within the three-year period, it’s also up to the individual districts to decide whether they start one or two weeks before Labor Day.  

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