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Local News

July 16, 2012

DPS set to start classes later

DUNCAN — Duncan students are getting a slightly longer summer vacation, which in turn is helping the school district gain in funds.

The first day of school is Aug. 22, which is about one and a half to two weeks later than school usually starts in Duncan. By starting later, the school district hopes to save on cooling costs and could be eligible for more federal child nutrition funds.

“We are hopeful there are some benefits to starting later,” Assistant Superintendent Glenda Cobb said.

The school district did approve a district calendar for the 2012-13 school year that was aimed at better serving students and parents. The new calendar will allow for a buffer time between Jan. 1, 2013, and the students’ return from Winter Break.

Cobb wasn’t sure how pushing the start date of school would impact the district or the students.

“To quantify that, we haven’t done it before,” she said. “We won’t know if it was beneficial until later.”

By pushing the start date, the school district is hoping to see a decline in August electric bills. Assistant Superintendent Rodney Calhoun said it can be costly for the school district to run air conditioners at all the school sites.

Calhoun and Cobb said several school districts, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa, have gone to a later start date because it does help cut costs when it comes to cooling the school buildings.

By starting later, the school district hopes to save that amount of money on cooling costs.

“We want to maximize our funds,” Cobb said. “It’s worth trying. We’ll be saving tax dollars.”

Calhoun, who oversees the finances for the school district, said funding cuts and unfunded state mandates have negatively impacted a lot of school districts throughout the state. By making an effort to conserve electricity, the school district hopes to make up some of those funds.

“It will help in a number of ways,” Calhoun said. “It’s a trial. A lot of schools are doing this.”

Because the school district will start school later, students will be going to school later into May. Instead of being done toward the middle of May, students will actually be attending class three days after Memorial Day.

High school graduation won’t be until May 24, which is the Friday before Memorial Day.

The later start and end date will stick with the 1,080 hour calendar approved by the Duncan Board of Education, to ensure the students get at least 1,080 hours of instruction.

As for the trade off between August and May, Cobb was positive the later start date would still save the district money.

“Typically, May is cooler than August,” Cobb said.

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