Yes, the calendar still says July, but some schools in Miami-Dade County begin their school year tomorrow.
This is due to a couple of factors. The first is what’s called the School Improvement Zone in Miami-Dade. Last year Superintendent Rudy Crew designated thirty-nine schools as being on the critical list in terms of standardized test scores and several other factors, so a lot of time, effort, and money is being put into these schools to get their Florida Comprehenisve Achievement Test (FCAT) scores up. The school board also pushed the opening of school up two weeks for these schools from 2004; the rest of the schools were pushed up a week, and they’ll open on August 8.
This makes life difficult for summer-dependant industries like camps and theme parks; I’m sure the American Camping Association isn’t too happy that school is starting in the middle of their high season.
I distinctly remember that when I was in school, classes didn’t begin until the day after Labor Day. Yeah, I know that was over thirty years ago, but I just checked the website of my alma mater, and their first day of classes is August 30. I also checked out other private schools in Miami, and one well-known school starts on August 18.
While the kids may grumble and the summer businesses may suffer a little loss of business, it makes you think that Dr. Crew and M-DCPS might be on to something.
Then again, what difference does summer vacaction make in South Florida? It’s always summer here.