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ST. JOHN —The summers of 2020 and 2021 might seem a little shorter for Lake Central High School students.

The School Board approved the school calendars for 2020-21 and 2021-22 at a recent meeting. Teachers will be reporting Aug. 10, 2020 and on Aug. 9 in 2021. Classes for the students will start a day later.

That’s several days earlier than other schools in Northwest Indiana. A check of the planned beginning dates for classes at other districts in Lake and Porter counties uncovered two things: Nobody else has approved their school calendars that far ahead, and nobody else is planning a first day of class any earlier than Aug. 12 this year.

Most of the districts that responded plan to start school Aug. 13 or 14 this year with only Valparaiso looking to an Aug. 12 opening. The latest opening will be Lake Station at Aug. 19.

Schools used to start closer to Labor Day, but Terry Mucha, Lake Central’s human resources and personnel director, said districts now want to get extra days in before students take the early required standardized tests in the fall.

In addition to wanting the extra instructional time to prepare for the tests, districts want to complete the first semester before the Christmas break so students won’t have two weeks off before having to take the first semester final exams.

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Lake Central Superintendent Larry Veracco said the early approval of the calendars for 2020-21 and 2021-22 is something the board likes to do “to give solid Christmas and spring break dates for families who travel and spend holiday time with relatives outside the area.”

“The way the calendar falls for next year, and with our staff and parents’ strong desire to maintain a Christmas break with three weekends, the start date gets moved up a couple of extra days,” Veracco said. “It is our belief that parents would rather begin school a couple of days early in exchange for three weekends at Christmas break.”

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Christmas falls on a Friday in 2020 and a Saturday the following year. Veracco said the district could hold classes until Dec. 23 each year and start school three days later in August but would rather not start and end the holiday break in the middle of the week.

The way the schedule works out, the first semester will be 88 days and the second will be 92 days. Veracco said the district tries to balance both semesters with an equal number of days but is comfortable with the longer second term because of the number of instructional days lost to other testing.

The good news for students is the earlier start means the final day of classes will be May 24. At least that’s what is planned, but it is subject to polar vortexes and other weather events that forced several makeup days to be added to this year’s schedule.

Snow days are built in for May 25, 26, 27 and beyond as needed on the two calendars approved by the board. That could mean a short summer after all.

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