Several school districts within Faulkner County have received approval from state officials regarding waiver requests to start the 2018 school year on a different date.
Based on state law, schools are required to start back the week of Aug. 19. While that falls on different days every year, this year the 19th falls on a Sunday, meaning the first day available for a school to start back would be Aug. 20, about which some districts have expressed concern.
With the approved waiver request from the Arkansas Department of Education and the Arkansas State Board of Education, schools will be able to start as early as Aug. 13.
"We believe that starting school on the 13th is a better option and that the 20th is too late in the month to start the school year," Conway Superintendent Greg Murry said. "if we did not start until the 20th, then our last day of school would be in the month of June."
Murry said an earlier let out date in May is something the district feels parents and staff would both appreciate for vacations and summer plans.
"We have received very favorable comments from parents and staff alike," he said.
In addition, Murry said starting later would make the number of days in the fall semester "significantly less" than that of the spring semester, which creates a problem for one-semester courses at the junior high and high school.
Mayflower School District, Greenbrier School District, Guy-Perkins School District and Vilonia School District have all confirmed waiver approvals.
Vilonia Superintendent David Stephens agreed with Murry and said Aug. 20 would be too late to start the school year. He said with only 101 instructional days on the school calendar, the later start date could have forced the district to end school past Memorial Day, which is never the goal.
Stephens said while the waiver was approved, the district has not yet confirmed the official start date for the 2018 school year.
Phillip Young, the director of the Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative, said they presented the option to the 26 school districts in their CoOp region of central Arkansas to prepare the waiver paperwork to send to the state for approval. Out of the 26, only one district — Atkins — opted out of the waiver request.
At this point, Young said it's up to each district to decide when exactly they want to start school next year.