Once again, the summer is rolling to a close that seems to have arrived even earlier than before.
The first day of school in Palm Beach County has indeed crept back one more day on the calendar, making this year’s opening on Aug. 14 the earliest start date in 12 years.
And, in case you’re curious, the date steps backward by one for the next two years, giving us first days on Aug. 13, 2018 and then Aug. 12, 2019 – but each time school starts on a Monday in the third week of August. Even then, the 2005 school year which kicked off on the 10th day of that August marks the earliest first day of school in this millennium.
Before the first bell rings, you will get one holiday – the Florida sales-tax holiday. The tax-free shopping stretch which applies largely to classroom supply lists and clothing, begins Friday, Aug. 4 and runs through Sunday. The big draw this year: computers are eligible for the tax break.
Looking for an actual holiday? The first of the school year, Labor Day, delivers a Monday off in week four.
The public school schedule has undergone a couple of other significant changes.
The district has nixed all of those half-days. Once intended for teacher training, they were better known as those days that sent parents scrambling for a plan to get kids to school later or bring them home early.
That move made way for another change in the calendar: A week-long Thanksgiving holiday.
The first day of school has long been a contentious topic in Florida, where the school year historically started before the Labor Day weekend – once a common starting point in states to the north. But, by law, it couldn’t start more than two weeks before.
In 2016, when Labor Day fell on Sept. 7, that meant Palm Beach County schools were headed for an Aug. 24 start date – the latest in a decade. Parents and teachers objected to a calendar that pushed the end of the 81-day semester into the weeks after the winter holiday break. While that could’ve been remedied by having fewer holidays in the fall, negotiators didn’t like that either.
In the end, lawmakers that spring changed the law, allowing districts to pick a start date no earlier than Aug. 10.
This year, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are waiting another week, starting Aug. 21. To our north, Martin County schools open Tuesday, Aug. 15. Of the large urban districts, Hillsborough and Pinellas are the only two to begin on the earliest date possible, Aug. 10.