In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the school district has the go ahead to offer free meals to all students from today through Friday, Oct. 20, Palm Beach County school officials announced Monday.
“Breakfast is always free in Palm Beach County, and for the next month, the District is pleased to be able to provide lunch meals at no cost as well,” according to the notice posted on the district’s website.
The permission comes in the form of a waiver granted because of the storm’s impact across the state. The meals still come under the National School Lunch Program, which means students have to select a complete meal – not pick from an a la carte menu – in order to qualify. Snack items are still available at regular prices.
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.
The next school year doesn’t begin until Aug. 14, 2017, but for the parents of soon-to-be-kindergarteners it is time to get acquainted with your child’s school. ‘Tis the season of the “Kindergarten Round Ups” where your child can visit his or her school, meet teachers and the principal.
A handful of schools have already held their meet-and-greets, but the majority will host events in April and May.
Registration forms are on hand and
can be completed at the school. (More than 50 elementary schools offer choice programs open to students who apply through a district-wide lottery. The application deadline for those schools has passed.)
Some insight into the pursuit of the ‘right’ elementary school for kindergarten from last year’s archives:
The scramble by parents to get their children in the right school was once part of a conversation about college or maybe high school, but these days it’s just as likely to be about elementary school.
The internet is rife with stories of parents tackling kindergarten choice with the mentality of an NFL recruiter, reducing options to spreadsheets and calculating moves from their child’s first play group. There is no shortage, also, of advice to parents on these quests and even research to assure them this is indeed an important decision.
Choice in Palm Beach County schools began in 1989 with three magnet programs intended to integrate predominantly black schools suffering from cases of white flight. Only one of those was an elementary: S.D. Spady, a Montessori school in Delray Beach.
Did you say that all you want for Christmas is to make it to high school graduation? You’re in luck. Palm Beach County School District has come up with the dates that those wishes will come true for about 11,500 seniors.
The graduation season will begin May 10, 2017 with the Indian Ridge students and run through May 25, 2017. All but a handful of schools will see those seniors turn their tassels at the South Florida Fairgrounds in suburban West Palm Beach.
Those who aren’t graduating will have another week in class. The last day of the 2017 school year is Friday, June 2.
2017 Graduation Dates and Times
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Indian Ridge School, 2 p.m., at Indian Ridge School
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Royal Palm School, 1 p.m., at Royal Palm School
Monday, May 15, 2017
Palm Beach Virtual School, 5 p.m., at Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Village Academy, 6:00 p.m., at Plumosa School of the Arts
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Riviera Beach Preparatory and Achievement Academy, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Take Stock in Children, 7 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Thursday, May 18, 2017
John I. Leonard High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Palm Beach Gardens Community High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
West Boca Community High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Pahokee High School, 7 p.m., at Pahokee High School
Friday, May 19, 2017
Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Adult Education, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Lake Worth Community High School, 7:30 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Atlantic Community High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Boynton Beach Community High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Boca Raton Community High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Monday, May 22, 2017
Park Vista Community High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Seminole Ridge Community High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Olympic Heights Community High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Royal Palm Beach Community High School, 7:30 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Jupiter Community High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Palm Beach Central High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Spanish River Community High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Glades Central Community High School, 7 p.m., at Glades Central High
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Santaluces Community High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Forest Hill Community High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Suncoast High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
South Tech High School, 7:30 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Palm Beach Lakes Community High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
William T. Dwyer High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Wellington Community High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Inlet Grove High School, 7:30 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
Tuesday, students get to stay home to make way for voters at 117 schools-turned-polling places. Teachers, however, will be clocking in for a teacher work day.
The district moved to clear students from campus on major election days back in 2010. Traffic and general safety concerns drove the move supported in the end by both school administrators and Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher.
Without students, the parking lot didn’t become a traffic jam of students and voters arriving at once and principals no longer had to worry about strangers wandering the campus.
Friday, both students and teachers have the day off as the district recognizes Veterans Day. In years past, students have had the day off, but teachers worked, but the arrangement didn’t sit well with some who spoke up at school board meetings, recalled teachers union President Kathi Gundlach.
Next up: three days off at Thanksgiving and a late start to the winter holiday, complicated by Christmas falling on a Sunday. Students end the week before on Thursday and a teacher work day falls that Friday before Christmas Eve.
Teachers are not supposed to take a personal day off on the day before or after a holiday, and there was concern that this rule could snag some folks’ travel plans, Gundlach said. The compromise is that district administrators have said they would be more flexible this year, she said.
“Is it the ideal calendar? Absolutely not, but we can’t change the date of Christmas,” Gundlach said. “There’s cooperation. We’re working to give teachers more flexibility.”