Ross Schools parent calling on district to push back annual start date

Districts returning earlier in summer for variety of reasons.

Some parents of students in the Ross Local School District are complaining the district started classes too early this school year — and it plans to do the same in 2024.

Ross Schools returned for the 2023-24 year on Aug. 10, which is one of the earliest starts in the school district’s history.

And the beginning of the following 2024-2025 school year will be earlier, with students reporting back on Aug. 8.

Most Butler County school districts in recent years have started their school years mid-August or a week or so later. Decades ago, most public schools didn’t start until after the Labor Day holiday and a Ross school parent is lobbying officials to return to that tradition or at least push back the current school year schedule.

I strongly feel that Ross Local School District is starting school too early in August and the community is not happy,” said Ross school parent Karen Burwinkel, who is leading the opposition to start dates.

“Too many families are frustrated with having an early August start date, all with so many varying reasons of how and why it is impacting them directly,” Burwinkel said.

Burwinkel claimed she is not alone in the 2,800-student, largely rural school system west of Hamilton.

“I have heard from an abundant number of students, teachers, parents, friends, neighbors, random strangers,” she said.

Ross Schools Superintendent Chad Konkle and Ross Board of Education President Sean Van Winkle did not respond this week to multiple Journal-News e-mail requests seeking their comments on the topic.

The earlier class start does mean Ross students will have longer Thanksgiving week and Christmas holiday breaks this school year. And classes for the 2023-2024 school will end on May 23.

Media reports indicate earlier start dates allow educators more time to focus on assessment tests that occur in spring. It allows for more school time prior to the winter break.

It also means ending a school year before June, when student focus may wane. But some business owners have said they need the youth for summer staffing through Labor Day, such as lifeguarding at local pools and water parks and at daycare centers.

In recent years, Ross Schools have struggled financially more so than any other local public school system as it has suffered three straight school levy defeats and has fallen into state-designated “Fiscal Caution” due to series of projected operating budget deficits and changes in state funding levels.

In the last two school years, Ross has made historically deep cuts in teaching ranks and student class offerings while raising student sports and other extracurricular fees, though in August some fees were lowered from last school year’s historical highs.

“This is an issue I’ve been passionate about for years, as almost a decade ago, I went to speak at a (Ohio) senate meeting in Columbus in support of a senate bill that, if passed, would make all Ohio schools start after Labor Day, like many other states have done. The bill didn’t have enough support by state representatives to continue on in the process, but I sure wish it would, because they are not listening to us at a local level,” said Burwinkel.

Senate Bill 346: ‘Start school after Labor Day’

Ohio Senate Bill 346 seeks to amend sections and enact a section of the Revised Code to generally require public and chartered nonpublic schools to open for instruction after Labor Day. It is currently in Senate Committee. More is online at

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