Calendar Chaos

New state school calendar law presents challenges to South, rest of district.


Ali Rehan

Students work in Jamie Dresser's third block Geometry class. Next year students will likely have to wait till January to take their first semester finals.

Next school year South cannot start until Aug. 24 which while it may seem like a good thing but it also has its own complications. 

Why can’t South start till Aug. 24, you ask? It is because Missouri passed a law that public schools can’t start more than 14 days before the first Monday in September. 

“The legislators wants to protect the hospitality industry, in Missouri. They also are mandating this change to schools and we’re obligated to follow it,” Assistant Principal Angie Pappas-Muyco said.

Restaurant owners and other people involved in the hospitality industries in the tourist-popular areas in Missouri, such as Branson, pushed for this change. They said that schools currently are starting too early, and they lose out on too much vacation business in August. In addition, many businesses complain that they lose out on workers since they have to attend school and can’t work.  

Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed this bill in July, and most districts, including Parkway, already had 2020-21 calendars approved and in place. Because of this, Parkway had to go back to the drawing board to come up with a calendar for next year. The 2020-21 initial starting date for Parkway was Aug. 12–now school cannot start till Aug. 24. Since the State Law that schools must have at least 174 school days. The new end of the year would be June 3.  

One major problem the high schools in Parkway will have to deal with is finals. By starting school 12 days later, there isn’t enough time to fit first semester finals before winter break. Consequently, one proposed calendar has first semester finals falling on Jan. 12-14, with a week prior available for students to study. 

Another problem sports teams will have to deal with is fewer practices before the games start.

“I anticipate the practice window will be later. I know that they will work with area schools to come up with a schedule that follows the law but comes in with the best interest of students,” Pappas-Muyco said. 

Many students are happy about the change. 

“I love it. It allows students to progress more in life by taking more time in life skills such as summer jobs. It also allows students to focus more on family and personal problems,” sophomore Gavin Sept said.

Parkway has said that winter and spring breaks will still be roughly the same amount of time, only shifted. However, if it were up to Sept, he would like even more holidays added to the school calendar. 

“I’d rather extend some of the holidays such as adding days like Veteran’s Day. To spend time with family,” he said.

 Math teacher Allison MacDonald also had some ideas. 

“I would take away the Monday we have in October, the Wednesday in Thanksgiving and Election Day. I would add a few minutes to the school days. I would make finals before winter break a priority. I don’t know if that would be possible,” she said. 

A longer summer, some believe will give students more time to forget what they have learned. However, MacDonald thinks differently.

“I don’t think this would have too much of an effect on that. I don’t think a couple of weeks will dictate what students remember or forget over the summer,” she said.

Sept also agrees.

“I believe it will allow students to rest and focus more when they come back to school,” he said. 

Pappas-Muyco said she thinks students should be prepared to have first semester finals in January.

“We haven’t seen the calendar yet we don’t know. I anticipate that our exams be after winter break. I don’t know yet. Which would be a shift for both teachers and students,” she said.