Schedule change will help students relax for holidays

The Clark County School Board has taken pity on students who couldn't conjure visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads during their long winter's nap.

Some students had complained they couldn't enjoy their winter break because it starts before the first semester has concluded and they are worried about final exams and end-of-semester projects.

The vacation traditionally begins about a week before Christmas and winds up shortly after New Year's, but the second semester doesn't start until the latter part of January. So, when kids report back to school, they are confronted with exams and deadlines for projects.

The School Board decided last week to start the school year about three weeks earlier than usual to create a clean break for the holidays. The change won't take effect until the 2012-13 school year, however.

Board members toyed with the idea of starting by Aug. 10 in 2011-12 but were discouraged by increased energy costs involved and scheduling complications. So, they compromised and decided not to change the calendar for another year.

The vote was 6-1 with board member Larry Mason opposed.

There doesn't appear to be consensus in the community.

The earlier start was supported by a slim majority of district employees and students, but 56 percent of parents wanted to stick with the current calendar, according to district surveys.

"It's like as many people as you ask, you get (as many) differences of opinion," said Martha Tittle, the district's chief human resource officer.

School Board member Deanna Wright was sympathetic to those wanting change.

Wright said teachers often ask her why "we can't start earlier so we can end before winter break. So we don't have to come back and remind everybody what we're doing. Students typically say, 'We don't want projects over winter break. We don't want reports. We don't want dioramas, all the little things.' So they would like to finish and relax over their break and come back and start anew."

But a late-August start for the school year is a good way to contain energy costs. Paul Gerner, the associate superintendent of facilities, estimated it would cost $1.2 million to operate schools in the August heat.

"August is a pretty hard month to get through," acknowledged School Board member Sheila Moulton.

Contact reporter James Haug at or 702-374-7917.