NYSSBA Poll: Majority of school board members support allowing classes to start before September, longer school year
FOR RELEASE: January 22, 2018
CONTACT: Al Marlin
Nearly two-thirds of school board members say school districts should have the option to begin classroom instruction prior to September 1 each school year, according to a recent poll by the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA).
Of the 471 poll respondents, 65 percent are in favor of allowing school districts to start the school year prior to September 1, compared with 27 percent who are not in favor and about 8 percent who are not sure. Current state law mandates that public schools (with the exception of charter schools) begin instruction no earlier than September 1. The state Board of Regents indicated at its December meeting that it would direct the State Education Department to draft legislation to offer, at local discretion, instructional days in August.
The poll also found that a little more than half of school board members (51 percent) said they would be in favor of a school year that was longer than 180 days. About 34 percent are against a longer school year, while 15 percent were not sure if the school year should be extended.
The poll also asked school board members about a proposal by the Board of Regents to replace the current requirement that schools provide a daily minimum number of instructional hours with an aggregate yearly number of instructional hours, with the goal of giving school districts greater flexibility in their daily school calendars. Forty-four percent of board members responding to the poll were in favor of the idea, while 15 percent were not in favor. Forty percent said they were unsure, most likely because they don’t yet fullycomprehend the implications.
"I think this poll is a recognition by many school board members that the current instructional calendar is in some ways not sufficient or flexible enough to meet the educational needs of our students," said Timothy Kremer, NYSSBA’s executive director.
The poll is not a scientific sampling of school board members.