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Edina Approves Early Start To School Year

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Edina School Board has voted unanimously in support of an early start in 2014-2015 school year, which would begin the week before Labor Day.

The idea has some parents upset. They say it would cut into summer vacation.

But the move to start classes before Labor Day is a growing trend.

In 2003, there were 21 districts state-wide that started before Labor Day. In 2013, there will be at least 59 that start before the holiday, and possibly even more.

In Edina, there was significant opposition by parents, who brought a petition with more than 320 signatures opposing the move.

Laurel Fischbach started the petition.

“[Parents] do not want their children starting school prior to Labor Day,” Fischbach said. “They want that time reserved for family time and the last hurrah of summer.”

School officials in Edina refused to comment, but they have argued that an earlier start gives students an extra week of class time before standardized tests are taken in April. Edina schools routinely have among the highest scores in the state.

Experts say that in wealthier districts the push for the early calendar start is spurred by pressure to perform at increasingly high levels on test scores.

Joe Nathan, the director of the Center For School Change, said educators are under a lot of pressure to boost test scores.

Those scores give parents and the broader community a sense of what is happening in the schools, Nathan said.

Some rural districts are also moving to an early start for financial reasons.

“Energy is expensive, so if you start earlier then you can take a…longer beak in the winter, and that saves money,” Nathan said.

Edina would get out a week earlier at the end of May.

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