Around the USA, a common question as children head back to school is why are suburban schools starting so early? At one time, the week after Labor Day was the traditional starting time for the school year, but now many districts are starting school in mid August.

Soft SkillsPart of the reason is a trend in high schools to hold first semester finals before the start of winter break.  Consequently, elementary and middle school districts which feed into these high schools arrange their calendars to follow.

In Wisconsin, the practice of starting school in September is protected by law.  However, in neighborhing illinois, 667 or 802 school districts have started school before Monday, August 22.  Another 96 start on August 22.  Only 39 districts start later.

In District 211, a priority was to offer the maximum number of days – 185.  Legally, schools may offer fewer days but Superintendent Dan Cates isn’t fond of that idea. “Every day of instruction is absolutely critical,” he said.

Another reason is to allow students a full two weeks of at winter break, but also allows the district more flexibility in scheduling both instruction and testing.

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