Some Mahoning County parents were upset by the early start of school this year.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The head of the local Catholic schools will allow each individual school to set its own starting date for next year, in response to complaints about the early start of the school year last August.
Wallace Dunne, interim superintendent of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown schools, said each of the diocese's more than 50 elementary and high schools will work with parents and teachers to develop their school calendars next year "so that the decisions are made closer to the client base and more responsive to parents' needs."
This school year, for the first time in several years, the diocese and then-Superintendent Nicholas Wolsonovich adopted a common calendar in which all schools across the six-county diocese started Aug. 21.
The starting date was the earliest among public and private schools in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys and was two weeks earlier than most public schools in Mahoning County.
The early start outraged dozens of parents, especially those in Mahoning County whose children participate in the Canfield Fair over the Labor Day weekend.
Wolsonovich resigned in July to become superintendent of Chicago Catholic schools, and Dunne said he is returning to the practice of allowing each school to set its own calendar, including the starting date.
"If we trust them well enough to educate our kids, we ought to trust them well enough to do a calendar," he said.
Requirements: Dunne said the calendars must meet certain parameters: School may begin no later than Sept. 3 and end no later than June 12 and the calendar must include 191 days -- 181 days of student instruction, eight days of teacher in-service and two parent conference days.
Sister Mary Alyce Koval, principal of St. Charles School in Boardman, said she is working on next year's school calendar this week, including input from teachers and parents.
"There's very little to play with getting all of these days in," she said.
"Everybody's not going to be happy, I'll tell you that," she added.
"There are people who want to start Aug. 15th and get out May 30th," she said. "There are people who want to start Sept. 6th or 8th or whenever and still get out on May 30th. Or some want to go until the end of the second or third week of June.
"It depends on people's personal calendars. Certainly, with 450 families, everybody can't have a vote on our school calendar."
What principal said: Catherine Wigley, principal of St. Luke School in Boardman, said she thinks allowing each school to develop its own calendar "will help alleviate the situation and people being upset."
"We all want to have our own way in the world today," she added.
The diocese's school year has lengthened from 185 days two years ago to 189 this year. Two more days will be added next year, amounting to 191 days.
The extra days will allow the schools to increase student instruction time and teacher training. Although Ohio requires 178 instructional days, diocese schools will have 181 next school year.
The extra days were part of Wolsonovich's plans to eventually encourage schools to develop year-round school calendars, but the concept did not catch fire in the diocese.