More Phoenix area school districts cutting summer short, starting school early

Chandler Unified School District has been starting classes in mid-July for years. Now more Phoenix area school districts are something similar.
Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 6:03 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Kindergarten teacher Jodi Hawthorne doesn’t mind having a shorter summer vacation. She’s thrilled to be back in the classroom with her students at Haley Elementary School in Chandler.

“It’s no secret it’s pretty hot out, so why not be back in school with friends, starting our routine and getting the year off to a great start,” Hawthorne said.

For years, the Chandler Unified School District has had a shorter summer than other school districts across the Valley. But now, other districts are starting classes early, as well. Four Valley school districts started classes on July 19. Two on July 24. Another, on July 25. One on July 26.

A lot of parents, like Meghan LeSueur, don’t seem to mind cutting summer short and getting their kids back in class. “We’ve kind of tapped out all our resources for summer,” she said. “We’ve swam; gone to movies; can’t do bike rides; can’t do afternoon hikes, so it’s just great to be back in the classroom where kids are with friends and it’s cooler indoors.”

Hawthorne said the six weeks the kids have off is long enough, and the shorter time away keeps students sharp.

“I found with some of them, the shorter summer helps. They just come in and pick up where they left off the year prior,” she said. “There’s not a whole lot of re-teaching. It’s kind of meeting those kiddos at their level and taking them where they need to get by the end of the following school year.”

The shorter summer will mean a longer fall, winter and spring break, which is usually two weeks. One of the biggest challenges bringing kids back in July is the extreme heat, but school officials say they work around it, keeping everyone indoors for lunch and recess.

“We have heat warnings right now, so kids are not going outside for recess. They are staying indoors,” LeSueur said. " Once the restrictions lift, they’ll be able to go back outside soon. It’s just part of being in Arizona.”

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