Goshen starts the 2014-15 school year Thursday, Aug. 7, about a week before other public school districts in Elkhart County.
That’s by design, according to Superintendent Diane Woodworth.
“Goshen Schools has had this same type of schedule for the last three years,” she said. “It helps to cut down on summer learning loss and is well in line with fall sports and music activities that begin in early August every year at every high school in Indiana.”
As a trade-off for starting earlier, students get longer fall and spring breaks.
Goshen’s school board first approved a significantly earlier start for Goshen students back in 2012.
At the time, Brian and Carrie Bechtel were worried about how the change would affect sports since Brian coaches boys basketball at Goshen High School and two of their children play school sports.
Now that it’s been a few years, though, “we haven’t found it to be a problem whatsoever,” Carrie said.
The couple’s daughter, a freshman this year at Goshen High School, plays volleyball and their son, a junior, plays football.
Carrie said the kids might as well start school earlier, since their sports practices started Monday.
"Since sports started, we wouldn't be able to go anywhere anyway,” she explained. ”As long as they are in their sports practices they might as well be in their (school) routine.“
The Bechtels also have child in fourth grade at Chandler Elementary.
Cory and Shannan Martin moved to the Goshen area from Wakarusa about two years ago, in part because they wanted their three children to attend Goshen Schools, Shannan said.
She’s a fan of the earlier start and longer breaks overall but felt a pang this year when back-to-school time rolled around.
"Every year, I think (the first day of school) has crept up a little earlier,” she said. “I just keep reminding myself that the longer breaks through the year will make up for this.”
Several Goshen parents mentioned the fact that one of the promised longer breaks, spring break, actually was cut short this past year because of the winter storms that caused seemingly never-ending weather-related cancellations for schools.
Goshen Schools cut two days out of spring break last year so students could make up snow days.
It was inconvenient for families who already had plans for the break, Martin said.
“I know that last winter was unique and we probably won’t have that experience again,” she said. “In an area where we get such severe weather sometimes, it seems like a good idea to plan a couple (snow make-up) days into the school year.”
Another Goshen mom, Jess Elliott, said Goshen’s calendar doesn't cramp her family’s style.
Her two sons are in third and fifth grade at Chamberlain Elementary.
“In some ways I think they are definitely ready to go back and I’m ready for them to go back too,” she said, adding, “It does seem really kind of early this year.”
Elliott’s right — Goshen students are starting earlier this year than they did last year. In fact, the first day of school has been earlier every year since the school board voted for a different calendar in 2012.
In 2011 Goshen students started Aug. 17, 10 days later than this year’s first day of school.