Guntersville City Schools went back to class last Friday, August 5.
The Marshall County Schools started school on Tuesday, August 9.
Has the world gone absolutely mad?
This is way, way too early for school to be starting. It’s crazy really.
I don’t blame the City School Board or the County School Board. The crazy start date is the fault of the State of Alabama. As I understand it, state law requires 1,080 hours of instruction per school year which comes out to six hours a day of school for 180 days.
Common sense is no longer fashionable, it turns out. The school calendar in my feeble mind at least ought to start the Tuesday after Labor Day and kids ought to get out the Friday before Memorial Day. It's very straightforward and simple.
It seems to me we could get just as much learning done in school, especially in the elementary grades. Just an outsider looking in here, but testing is usually done in late April in the elementary grades.
School seems to be something of a running party after that.
If students just went a half-hour longer each day, you could drop the school year from 180 days to 166 days. Go 45 minutes longer each day and you could reduce it to 160 days.
I am probably overstating, but kids and teachers alike have lost a month of summer with the calendar as it is now. That also means a month of potential tourism is lost and that impacts tourism communities like Guntersville.
While we’re talking about peeves, irks, crotchets and scheduling, let me point out another thing that has driven me absolutely mad in recent years. This one comes to us courtesy of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
The football season no longer has a Week 1, Week 2, etc. We start at Week Zero and some teams have Week Zero games while others do not. On top of that, some teams play a jamboree prior to Week Zero (is this “Zero Minus One?”) and the whole thing is just maddening to keep track of.
If you play a Week Zero game, it allows you to take an open date during the course of the season and still get in ten games. This is a good thing. Guntersville usually takes its open date to coincide with Fall Break, so it gives football players and their families a nice chance to take a weekend getaway or just have a break if they are so inclined.
But for the love of God, let’s change the terminology. Let’s just call it Week One of an 11-week season.
There are also rules about how you can start fall practice earlier if you don’t practice in pads in the spring but have a Week Zero game.
Last Friday’s “mock school shooting” at Asbury High School was a sobering experience, at least for me. I kind of knew it would be.
Chief Deputy Steve Guthrie does an amazing job of keeping reporters in the loop and he’d let me know more than a week ahead of time what they were planning and that they were going to let Elizabeth Summers of the Sand Mountain Reporter and myself be inside the school during the drill.
It was a surreal sight to see officers coming down the hall, guns at the ready, clearing the school classroom-by-classroom.
The “scenario” was that a disgruntled parent – “They done my boy wrong,” he would shout – had shot and killed the school resource officer and barricaded himself in a classroom.
What was impressive was that officers from different agencies were the first on the scene and even though they hadn’t worked together before, they formed teams for the school clearing. If memory serves, it was a DeKalb County deputy, two Albertville officers and a Marshall County deputy.
They tried to negotiate with the gunman. When he went silent and women in the classroom then screamed, the officers breached the door and took down the gunman.
The real sobering part was the time it took officers to arrive on scene. The call of the problem went out at 9:21 a.m. The DeKalb deputy arrived on scene at 9:30, nine minutes later.
It was the longest 9 minutes of my life as I thought of the destruction that could’ve been wreaked in that amount of time.
Our school resource officers are absolutely critical and let’s pray that if an incident ever were to occur, they can neutralize it in seconds. These officers are Lone Rangers, especially in our more remote schools, and their work is critical.