Saline Board of Education Votes 5-2 for Early School Start in 2019-20

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 01/24/2018 - 01:38

The question wasn’t so much if, but when.

The Saline Board of Education voted 5-2 to approve Superintendent Scot Graden’s recommendation to start school before Labor Day in the 2019-20 school year.

Board President Tim Austin and Trustees Michael McVey, Dennis Valenti, Scott Hummell, and Karen Delhey voted to approve Delhey’s motion to approve Graden’s recommendation. Vice President Paul Hynek and Secretary Heidi Pfannes voted against the motion.

The community has been divided fairly evenly - although the debate hasn’t been fierce. Graden’s recommendation was portrayed as a compromise. It moves the district toward a schedule educators believe will lead to better educational outcomes, yet it respects the schedules of families who’ve already begun making plans for Labor Day this year.



Board of Ed talks about the start of school

Posted by The Saline Post on Tuesday, January 23, 2018


While the issue split the community, it didn’t split the board -- despite the appearances of the 5-2 vote.

Hynek and Pfannes didn’t vote against Graden’s motion because they are opposed to starting school before Labor Day. Hynek and Pfannes didn’t want to wait until 2019-20. We reached out to Hynek and Pfannes and here’s what they told us, via email.

Paul Hynek:

My support for starting in 2018 and not waiting for 2019 is based on many things:

  • Staff are in favor of early start at a higher percentage than the parent/student groups (they know the kids and how to educate them!).

  • Even though they won't admit it - most kids are ready to go back by the last week of August and their parents are ready for them to go.

  • With this timing - the new students and building transition students will have two "short" weeks to start the year and get acclimated to their new buildings (emotional wellness).

  • Students are "fresher" in the fall - burnt out by Memorial Day (Staff as well).

  • This is about "Change" - and people naturally resist change.

  • Many who don't want it - still won't want it in 2019  (Maybe they will get used to the idea in the next 19 months....but somehow I think not).

  • Parent/Students are basically split - so no matter when we do it - 50% are okay   50% are not.

  • If we waited for instance, on Next Gen classrooms to be 100% accepted - we'd still be traditional teaching (this was a bigger change - and the results have been great).

  • The improvements to the athletic/academic calendars....especially the timings of finals and the AP tests are great positives.

  • My guesstimate is that about 50 students district wide might not start with us (girl scouts, 4H, vacations, etc....).  I'm okay with that.  Over the years, I regularly pulled my kids to travel before different breaks - family time is important as well.  This happens now (religious holidays also)  just not normally at the beginning of the year.   Working with their teachers, like we do today for "off-schedule" time off, school assignments can and will continue to be provided.  This is a choice by the students and their parents - choices have consequences - they need to weigh their options.

  • Just like the parents being 50/50 - the economic data from around the state by different groups to have or not have the “Labor Day” law is also 50/50 on this issue - twisted in my mind to make their points.

  • Bottom line - I think this is best for our students - and that to me is always the first question I ask myself.

  • I believe the rest of the county will soon follow.

  • The current calendar system was built around planting/harvest seasons - even though I consider us to be somewhat of a farming community - it is 2018 folks!

  • We asked the state for a waiver, now we are saying...we’re going to wait.  Will the state change their mind as well on the 3 years?

Heidi Pfannes:

I believe it is a great idea to start school before Labor Day.  My no vote was because I would like to start pre Labor Day beginning 2018 vs 2019. My reasons are because by the third week in August the sports have already started, band has started, high school kids are back and engaged,  most of the students are back and ready for school. There will be conflicts - for the Girl Scouts- their service on Mackinac Island can be an excused absence.  

Educationally, the kids are ready to be back late in August.  They are excited to be back in the classroom.  The exams will be completed before Thanksgiving so the kids can take the weekend to focus on their families in lieu of studying for exams.  By June all the tests are completed

And there are no assessments In June to measure the growth of our students.  By June the kids are distracted and want to be outside.  When school is done in June families are ready for vacations.  When the state added five days to the calendar this year it means the kids have to go longer in June.  This has an impact on concentration on learning, the impact on Tourism in Michigan, and the ability to attend summer camps and summer educational enrichment.  

So, because I feel strongly it is better to start before Labor Day, why wait.  I am in total support of the board’s decision of waiting until 2019.  Even after this engaged process, there will still be people who will not be happy when 2019 start date comes and we are sorry we can’t please everyone but I think this will be a good compromise since the community feedback has been so divided.


Tran Longmoore's picture
Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is a veteran community journalist. He is founder and owner of He is co-publisher of The Saline Post weekly newspaper. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 734-272-6294.

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