Calendar vote: School to start mid-Fair Week

By Jason Hawk -

The first day of school in Amherst will come a week later next year.

The 2017-2018 school year calendar, adopted Tuesday by the Amherst board of education, shows most grades heading back Aug. 23. Kindergarten will begin Aug. 28 and preschool will start the following day.

“This particular week is a very common start week for a lot of the schools in the Southwestern Conference,” superintendent Steven Sayers said.

The delay will give workers more time to complete extensive heating and cooling upgrades at Steele High and Nord Middle schools. Overhauls at both building will be funded by the same bond issue that will pay for construction of a new PK-3 school on South Lake Street.

The timing of the Lorain County Fair, scheduled for Aug. 21-27, also plays into the decision. Plenty of Amherst students raise rabbits, goats, horses, and take part in other 4-H activities as Junior Fair projects and are excused from school during that week.

Sayers said the academic year’s start date is shifted each year as needed. He consults other districts to see when they will begin classes, testing dates play a role, and construction can also bump the timetable around.

For example, North Ridgeville plans next year to hold off until after Labor Day to start. That’s because the district is building a new school for grades three to eight and anticipates construction running long.

But Sayers said Amherst tends to skew earlier. Staff believes instructional days are more valuable in the fall as opposed to after Memorial Day, when students’ attention wanders.

The fall sports schedule has very little to do with the back-to-school date, Sayers said. Teams can and often do play before the academic year begins.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk