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Next school year will start earlier

Nye County School District (NCSD) students will have a shorter summer break after the 2013-14 school year.

Students will return for the start school on Aug. 11, 2014.

A recent survey by the district sought input from parents on whether the district should alter the beginning and ending dates for the 2014-15 school year.

NCSD Superintendent Dale Norton said the board of trustees gave the go- ahead to conduct the survey by way of what’s known as “robo calls.”

“They wanted me to see if the community would support an earlier start date for school. There were a couple of board members that have inquired about starting school earlier to get the semester for our secondary schools completed prior to Christmas break. They felt that there was lot of research that shows it would be better for our students to have those exams done and wrapped up before we go into the holiday season and come back fresh and ready to go after we return from the Christmas break,” he said.

The phone survey went out to all of the parents and guardians in the district, which essentially asked whether they were in favor of starting the 2014-15 school year on Aug. 11 and end the year on May 21.

Norton said it took extra time to gauge the response from parents who participated in the survey.

Many of those parents seemed to favor the earlier start date.

“We did the survey and there were several hang-ups so we sent out a second call only to those who did not initially respond the first time around. Both times it actually showed that about 66 percent of the parents were in favor of starting earlier. There was one call per family which was about 5,000 calls and we had about a thousand who responded. It was not a real big response but of that, more parents were in favor of it. I have also personally spoken to some parents in the community who said they were in favor of it as well,” he said.

The superintendent also said that there were those who preferred to keep the schedule as it is.

“I heard some concerns about it being too hot but we have done year-round school. It’s just going to take a matter of time to communicate that we are starting earlier. We have already started those communications and once we get finished with this school year, we will be into that cycle of starting in August and ending in May,” he said.

Norton also provided additional reasons why the new schedule will be beneficial for students even though the summer break will be about two weeks shorter this school year.

“In the secondary level, you already have your athletes in and participating in their sports. It’s just a matter of getting past that first year of a slightly shorter summer and then the next year we will be back on cycle again with however many weeks we have off in between the dates. There’s always going to be those who are for it and those against it. This was a board decision and that’s what they wanted to do so we are going to put it in place,” he said.

Norton also spoke about a newly enacted program for Nevada schools which was passed during the 2013 legislative session.

The program encourages schools to establish and participate in programs to promote the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by students.

The superintendent noted that due to the partial government shutdown, the program is now in danger of losing funding.

“The only thing that the shutdown has done that we can see right now may affect that program. We just want to make sure that we are spending the money and not getting reimbursed from that program. Other than that, we are okay and the Department of Education has not notified us that we are hurting in any other way including the free and reduced lunch program which is a health and safety factor. It’s pretty much untouchable. The fresh fruit and vegetable program is not part of the free and reduced program,” he said.