Prior to the December 29 school board meeting, the board held a public forum to discuss changes to next year’s school calendar, required by the House passing House Bill 59, which changes required school attendance to hours instead of days. The current calendar was developed based on the “days” concept. The change to hours allows us: 1) more flexibility to provide better professional development to our staff; 2) to account for calamity days within the school year; and 3) requires us to look at kindergarten and senior hours to be sure we are meeting requirements.
The calendar will be voted on in January.
Under the proposed calendar, school will start for students on Tuesday, August 19, with the last day being Friday, May 22. There are slightly more hours than last year’s calendar, which meets student needs, staff evaluation needs, and parental expectations. School is starting early to allow students time to complete curriculum objectives before testing.
The calendar moves from the previous early dismissals for staff development to two full development days during the year (September and November). In addition, an in-service day between the first and second semester (January – Martin Luther King Day weekend) has been added.
Kindergarten will be increased from 2 hours, 40 minutes to 2 hours, 50 minutes to provide enough extra hours to cover for calamity days. The practice of allowing seniors to have early dismissal will be discontinued because they will otherwise be short on hours for the year. However, seniors who could be approved for early dismissal will have the option of supervised activities and approved educational options (still under development).
This calendar has the first semester ending in January, as has been done for years. High school exams thus take place shortly after the two-week holiday break. Board member Debbie Marques raised this an issue she has heard from parents: having exams after break does not allow students to rest and recover during their time off. Two parents also spoke to the board about this issue.
I agree this is an issue. Other districts, even if they have the semester end in January, hold exams before break. At least one area district has used the calendar change and testing schedule to move school start up to the point where the semester will actually end before winter break. Assistant Superintendent Tim Ackermann, who was running the hearing in Dr. Farrell’s absence, says the administration will take this concern into account in looking at a new draft of the calendar before January.
See the draft of the calendar below, and please feel free to get in touch with any questions.