Tangipahoa parents calling for later start to school year

Follow-up: Tangipahoa parents calling for later start to school year

AMITE, LA (WAFB) - 16-year-old Nathanial Davis is getting ready for football season which also means the start of the school year. However, when it comes to getting back in class, the Amite High School junior would rather wait a few more weeks.

"If we push it back. It will be way better," said Davis.

Davis is a supporter of a new movement rallying parts of the community.

"My uncle called me. Then my mom was telling me about it," said Davis.

Tangipahoa parent Carli Adams created an online petition calling on school leaders to push back the start of the year because she says it's just too hot. The 2015 school year is scheduled to start on August 6.

"The pushback should happen the day after Labor Day when we're not in the hottest month of the year," said Adams.

Since it went online over the weekend, it's been signed by over 5,000 people.

"They don't have air conditioning on the buses. The bus driver has the fan and it's blowing hot air," said Crystal Briggs, a parent who signed the petition.

"We do not need a kid dropping dead from heat before we get something done, so we're taking precaution now," said Adams.

At the Tangipahoa School Board meeting Tuesday night, parent Amy Brumfield served as spokeswoman for the group aiming to change the start date. Several parents with the group were also in attendance. She spent well over five minutes detailing the health risks associated with the current hot temperatures.

The board agreed to hold a committee meeting where all parents could independently voice their concerns. That meeting will happen in the coming weeks.

Superintendent Mark Kowle said Tuesday it is unlikely that the school start date will be changed this late in the summer.

"We're two weeks from the start of the school year," Kowle said. "I think this is more dialogue for the future school years."

He said there are many reasons schools start this early in the summer, including allowing teachers and students time to prepare for state testing.
As for this year, Kowle said they will take necessary precautions to keep the students safe, including reminding sports coaches to keep kids cool.

"We always take steps to guarantee the welfare of our kids," he said.

"I'm 99 percent sure that school is going to open up on August 6," said Karen Bell, a teacher and president of the Tangipahoa Association of Educators.

Bell said a later start to the year also means a later end or less student vacation time during the year.

"Their brains function differently than ours. And so they need these brain breaks where they have days off in succession," said Bell.

The Department of Education sent 9News a document Monday saying it's the district's decision on whenever they wish to start and end the year as long as they fill the yearly requirement of 63,000 teaching minutes.

Copyright 2015 WAFB. All rights reserved.