State designation allows 3 local school districts to start classes early

Move lets students finish testing before winter break

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A new state designation is allowing three local school districts to choose their own start dates. San Antonio Independent School District chose Monday to begin its school year.

Students are back at work two weeks early, and teachers had to prepare their classrooms even earlier.

“It’s a wonderful initiative. I think it’s great. The students get to maybe not lose so much of the previous year’s information,” said Brandi Garza, a fourth-grade teacher at Japhet Elementary.

Garza said she’s ready for all the students to get back to learning.

“To me, it hasn't been a big deal because this is my life. This is what I love to do,” she said.

The San Antonio, Alamo Heights and South San Antonio school districts are all starting classes earlier this year for the first time. They have been designated districts of innovation.

“Which is a designation that the state put in place (that) you can apply for, back in 2015, and with that, you have waivers from certain statutes such as the school start time,” said Leslie Price, SAISD spokesperson.

When it applied for the district of innovation designation, SAISD told the state it planned to start two weeks early so students could finish testing before winter break, instead of making them wait until after. Once the students turn in their tests, they’ll be able to relax during the break.

“Mind breaks are imperative to their learning. They are needed so that the students can work really hard, and then they get that break right after testing,” Garza said.

The move should cut down on test anxiety, which Garza said is common.

And while the students may have to start early, they’ll be able to start their summer before students at other districts. 

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