Six Oakland County school districts and one charter school have received waivers from the state to begin classes before Labor Day, part of a record number of Michigan schools that want to bypass the state’s ban on going back early.
But local parents need not worry that their relaxed summer schedules are about to be cut short. Some of the school districts that asked for and received waivers don’t intend to use them this year.
Others are bringing children back to school early for a variety of reasons.
Statewide, at least 99 public school districts and charter schools, along with 24 intermediate school districts, received waivers from the Michigan Department of Education that release them from a 17-year-old requirement to begin school after the holiday.
That requirement was designed to give the state’s tourism industry a late summer boost by keeping families’ schedules free for the Labor Day weekend.
The state began issuing waivers in 2006 to side-step that law. Even with a waiver, schools have to give students the day off from school on the Friday before Labor Day, as well as the holiday itself.
A bill is pending in the state Legislature to allow schools to resume classes before Labor Day without obtaining a waiver.
A number of districts statewide are requesting waivers to align their calendars with colleges, an indication of the growth of programs that offer high school students the opportunity to pursue college credits before graduation.
One Oakland County school requested the waiver because it intends to go to a year-round or balanced calendar as a way of increasing knowledge retention and academic performance in its students.
Year-round schools generally are in session for the same number of days as traditional schools, but have a shorter summer break and have more breaks throughout the school year.
The Frederick Douglass International Academy, a charter school in Oak Park, will resume Aug. 14. The school has offered tutoring, field trips and other activities to keep its nearly 200 students plugged in to learning all summer.
The school for preschool through eighth grade intends to monitor students’ grasp of concepts through the year, and the more frequent breaks will allow it to offer opportunities to catch up via tutoring for students who are falling behind.
“We thought this was a better fit for our students,” said Sarah Peters, human resources and compliance director. “We thought this was more beneficial, rather than waiting until summer to try to catch up.”
Here’s a roundup of the other Oakland schools that received waivers and their plans for the 2017-18 school year.
• Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston students at all grade levels are returning to school before Labor Day. In its application for a waiver, district officials cited a desire to align the calendar for students enrolled in a post-secondary or early college program.
• Lake Orion Community Schools: Lake Orion applied for the waiver to accommodate one year-round elementary school. The year-round calendar was later eliminated at that school.
• Madison District Public Schools: All students are returning to school before Labor Day, the district operates on a balanced calendar.
• Oak Park School District: This district is returning to school at all grade levels before Labor Day.
• Oxford Community Schools: This district is resuming school at all grade levels before Labor Day; its waiver application cited aligning the calendar with a post-secondary or early college program.
• Troy School District: With the exception of the International Academy East, the district’s students are not returning to school before the holiday.