Back to school

It’s barely the middle of August and students are headed back to class throughout the Grand Valley. It seems awfully early to those of us who grew up believing it was ordained by nature that school should begin (and summer officially end) each year after Labor Day.

Still, we understand some of the reasoning. For one thing, School District 51, like every other district in the state, wants to get as much instructional time in as possible before the Colorado Student Achievement Program tests are taken next March. The thinking is students will perform better on the CSAPs if they have more classroom time before taking the tests.

But CSAPS alone aren’t driving the early schedule. There is a need to get as much classroom time as possible over the next nine months in a schedule filled with mandated holidays, teacher work days and other time off.

Moreover, District 51, to its credit, is actually adding two instruction days to its calendar this school year. We hope we’ll see more of that in coming years, since the United States notoriously lags behind many other industrialized nations in total hours students spend in class each year.

A new school year is always weighted with potential and possible problems. This year is no exception, for district administrators, teachers, students and parents.

How many students will actually show up to local schools this year, in the midst of the current recession and downturn in the gas industry?

How will students like their teachers, and vice-versa?

Will local sports teams do well?

New friends will be made, and old ones reaffirmed. Popularity will remain a central concern for many. But academics must remain the most important issue.

It’s time for motorists to remember, as well, to watch for buses and students walking along roadways.

Best of luck to all the students, parents, faculty and staff at the beginning of this new school year.


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