State law sends Central Florida students back to school in August

74 days of summer end well before Labor Day

By Allison McGinley - News Director , Lauren Rowe

ORLANDO, Fla. - There used to be two rules about the day after Labor Day. You didn't wear white. And kids went back to school.

Not so in Florida.

We break both the rules and it leaves many parents wondering, "Why is summer so short?"

The theme song of the Disney cartoon favorite ‘Phineas and Ferb' sings, "There's a 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it."
While Phineas Ferb may get 104 days of summer vacation, Central Florida's kids come up way short.

Whether school ended in May or early June, local students only get 74 days.
In 2007, the length of summer time was put on Florida's law books.
Legislators ruled districts can't begin the school year any earlier than 14 days before labor day.

This year that's August 20. So why then did Brevard County students go back to class last week? And Seminole return on Monday?

State law considers them one of the "Academically High Performing School Districts."

That means they've earned an A rating two years running and therefore earned the right to set their own dates.

A Brevard county spokesperson tells Local 6 they choose to start early to ensure final exams are finished before winter break.

For moms like Missy Touchet the 10 weeks she gets with her three children is perfect.

"It gives the kids just enough time to have downtime but you have to be careful cause it also allows them to forget the things they learned the year before," said Touchet.

And the June to August timing means fewer crowds at the beaches and theme parks.

"I think it's good we kind of miss the 'upnorth' people so we get our own little summer a few weeks before they do," said Touchet.

While Paula Van Eaton also enjoys the time she has with her two children she says keeping them busy doesn't come cheap.

"It's hard to keep them entertained at home for such a long time," said Van Eaton, "You're going out a lot and you're paying high prices like going to the parks."

Both Touchet and Amy Raya say summer can feel a lot longer if you don't have family to help out with childcare duties.

After all, 74 days of camps, classes, and daycare doesn't come cheap.

"The camps are very expensive, if you want to keep them safe, busy, and keep them learning, the thing to do is to put them in camp," said Touchet.

Raya agreed, "It would be something I'd have to budget for throughout the school year just to make it through summer."

School officials tell Local 6 the decision to start before Labor Day dates back decades to a time when agriculture was big business and families needed their children out of school to help in the fields.

While some northern states still go back to school after Labor Day, the number is decreasing. Only about 20 percent of kids are out of school until September.

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