South Florida Sun Sentinel/ Scott Travis, November 23, 2021
Summer will once again end early for Palm Beach County students.
The new school year will start Aug. 10, 2022, the same as last school year and the first day that school districts are allowed to start the new year under state law. The last day will be May 26, 2023.
The Palm Beach County School Board recently approved the 2022-23 calendar. The district has used a different approach than other districts in South Florida, which have waited until the second half of August to start the school year.
The Broward School Board is expected to approve its calendar next month, with the first day being either Aug. 17 or 22. Miami-Dade’s calendar for next year isn’t available yet. This year, it started school on Aug. 23.
While many parents complain that students have to cut short sleepaway camps and other summer activities due to the early start, many principals and teachers in Palm Beach County maintain that ending the summer early is the best approach academically.
They say the start allows the semester to end before Winter Break, preventing students from having a long gap in learning before exams.
“We’re seeing that as a strong instructional practice our school leaders and teachers appreciate,” said Jay Boggess, chief of staff for Palm Beach County schools.
But it’s a difficult task to get in a whole semester before winter break, due to all the fall holidays, including Labor Day, two Jewish holidays and a weeklong Thanksgiving break.
Schools also close Election Day on even years when there are state or federal elections in November. They’re used as polling sites. To offset loss of instruction, the school district stays open on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, those years.
That’s a bad move, said School Board member Karen Brill, the only one of the seven School Board members to vote against the calendar. “I think that’s very disrespectful to people who serve our country to not have that as a day off,” Brill said.
Brill has supported moving the school year later in August, even if it means giving exams to January. She also doesn’t support a weeklong Thanksgiving break, saying it creates a hardship for working parents who have to make child care arrangements.
But some board members say the weeklong Thanksgiving break has been enormously popular with teachers and parents since the district started it in 2017. Prior to that, schools were closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving week.
“Never take away Thanksgiving week,” School Board member Erica Whitfield said. “To me it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. It allows for our staff to have a full week off, and it’s a marketing tool. At a time when employees may not want to work for the school district, this is a benefit we get.”
Broward followed suit for the 2020-21 year, switching to a five-day Thanksgiving break for teachers and students. In Miami-Dade, students go to school Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, with Wednesday being a teacher planning day and Thursday and Friday being a holiday for all.
The full Palm Beach County 2022-23 calendar can be viewed here.