Save Tennessee Summers?

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - The battle to save summer heats up. This year Knox County Schools started earlier than last and next year, it's set to be even sooner.

The record-tying summer heat, A/C problems, and hot buses have parents saying enough is enough. Tuesday, they told the school board early August is just too early to start school.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy was there where parents asked the board to makeover the school calendar.

Since 2000, Knox County students have lost more than a week of summer. The board has said before the current calendar works better with high school scheduling. Plus, students take their first semester finals before Christmas break, but parents say summer break is just as important.

Parents say school's cool, just not during the dog days of August, especially if your kids ride the bus.

"They get off red, hot, sweaty everyday," parent Kathryn Eggleston said.

But Kathryn Eggleston first grade son Will did a lot more than sweat.

"He was crying and he threw up a lot, but I still knew it was dehydration because he'd had it before," Eggleston said.

And if Knox County Schools didn't start so early she says he wouldn't have had it this time.

"I'm just irritated because all he needs to do is drink water, and I make sure he does that in the summer time," Eggleston said.

This year students headed back to the classroom August ninth. Next year, they're scheduled to hit the books three days sooner. Since the first day of school, Knox County students sweat through more than two weeks straight of 90 plus temperatures.

Just Tuesday, A/C problems at Bearden Middle School sent Amy Olson's daughter home early.

"Maybe it overtaxed the system because we were having such high heat. It plays into it," Olson said.

Into the effort from Eggleston, Olson, and other parents to have the school board push back day of school. Olson's also with the group Save Tennessee Summers. She handed the board two new calendar options.

"It's simply moving fall break and some staff development days--not in-service days---- to the beginning of the calendar year so the kids can get a week or two more of summer," Olson said.

The board's open-minded.

"I personally plan to push to have the school system conduct a survey," board member Karen Carson said.

District wide of parents and high school students.

"Because I've heard from parents all kinds of different ideas," Carson said.

As for Eggleston's son's bus rides...

"Now they're not quite as bad. It's a big difference in the hundred degree days," Eggleston said.

A difference she says a later start date could keep.

Parents aren't just worried about the heat. They say shorter summers mean less time for social and emotional growth. Not to mention family time and summer sports.


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