School to start on Aug. 27 next year

School will start a week earlier next year, on Aug. 27, students were informed Wednesday in an emailed letter signed by Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas, Head of Middle School Jon Wimbish, and Head of Athletics Terry Barnum.

The Senior Administrative Committee met Monday afternoon to reach a decision on schedule changes.

“Starting before Labor Day happens every five years or so,” Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts said last week. “There is a range and we make sure that every school year the number of days falls within that range because teachers need a dependable number to work with.”

Huybrechts said the timing of Rosh Hashanah in the same week as Labor Day and that both Good Friday and Passover would fall outside of spring break would cut the number of days of school and were reasons for the proposed earlier start date.

The letter did not mention moving mid-terms to before winter break, although faculty and administrators had been considering that change.

She added that “plenty of teachers here think [moving exams before break] is worth it to see if it does reduce stress and give teachers more time to teach.”

Top administrators proposed this change in an all-faculty meeting Dec. 11, at which Barzdukas said the overwhelming majority of teachers were against pre-break testing.

“There was consensus, not unanimity, that midterms after break, where they are held now, are less stressful for kids,” Barzdukas said. “The culture of Harvard-Westlake is one of continuous improvement. That means asking ourselves tough questions all the time. Every year. There is definitely a culture of constructive dissent in those discussions.”

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