Published: Jul 25, 2011 8:14 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 25, 2011 7:14 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla - Because Lee County Public Schools is a high-performing District and student achievement continues to rise, the State provides a waiver to allow the start of school to be two weeks earlier than required. This year the District will be heading back to school earlier than the past few years – Monday, August 8th - and this may be causing some confusion in our community.

“We are glad for the opportunity to start our school year earlier, but we don’t want students to fall behind right out of the gate,” said Dr. Joseph Burke, Superintendent of Schools. “It’s important everyone know about the August 8th start date – after all, teaching and learning in Lee County starts on the first day.”

Heading back earlier provides several benefits for students. For example, the District can end the semester prior to the winter break, allowing students to wrap up exams and other projects before they leave for two weeks. Under the old calendar, students would return from winter break and have to take exams shortly thereafter. It also provides two additional weeks for teachers and students to prepare for important standardized test, such as AP, IB, FCAT, SAT and others.

The new calendar has the school year ending earlier, which gives students the opportunity to participate in various camps and academic programs at colleges and universities across Florida and the nation. Under the old calendar, the school year ended after some of these programs started.

District officials have also worked with school principals to allow for a week after school starts for students to purchase their school supplies – this will allow families to take advantage of Florida’s “Tax Free Weekend” (which is the weekend after school begins in Lee County.)

“We don’t want to penalize families just because we’re heading back a week early,” Dr. Burke said. “There’s nothing wrong with allowing a week grace period so families can enjoy the savings provided by the ‘Tax Free’ weekend.”