Southeastern Local School District is pushing back the first day of school so students and staff can beat the heat.
Southeastern Superintendent David Shea said that in the past, the district has had to release students two hours early, up to six times during the first few weeks of school because of excessive heat. Miami View Elementary School and Southeastern Jr./Sr. High School do not have central air conditioning.
“If it’s sweltering hot in a building, I’m also a realist that — how much are you really learning when you’re sweating?” he said.
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The district will start school on Aug. 30, nearly two weeks after many other school districts in Clark County. To make up for the late start, Shea said 15 minutes will be added to the start of every school day. Miami View will now start the day at 7:55 a.m. and Southeastern will start at 7:45 a.m.
He said the extra time each day will get the district back up to the required number of hours by the state. The minimum number of hours for school districts is 910 hours for kindergarten through sixth grade and 1,001 hours for seventh through 12th grade, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
“It’s a way to do climate control within the structure of the day, that’s not as costly as if you were just adding air units,” Shea said.
Currently, the district utilizes fans and some window air conditioners to stay cool. Shea said new window units would cost tens of thousands of dollars, and could require rewiring if the older buildings in the district couldn’t handle the power needed for them.
Shea hopes that by pushing the start date back, the district will have fewer early releases which he said can be disruptive.
“I don’t like releasing early because parents are at work and things of that nature, and it’s very inconvenient for them and I worry about kids getting home safely,” he said.
Shea said he’s received predominantly positive feedback about the change from parents and thinks the students will enjoy a longer-than-normal summer break.
“I think it’s going to be great for the kids. I think they’ll come back — almost having a full three months of summer, being able to enjoy themselves and hopefully energized and ready to learn,” he said.
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First-grade teacher Beth Bertemes was prepping her classroom for the new school year on Wednesday. She said she’s glad for the late start.
“By the time afternoon rolled around, I had kids who wanted to take a nap because it was so warm in here, and they were so hot and it was so muggy and they were so sweaty,” she said.
Bertemes is also a district parent, so the later date gives her more time with her kids, one of whom is entering his senior year at Southeastern.
“Even though I come in here and work part of the day. I get to go home and see my kids, and even though they’re involved in sports — we’re still not on that crazy, busy schedule yet,” she said.