Students in Leander ISD could be seeing their school year start on Thursday, Aug. 16 if the Board of Trustees approve a proposed 2018-19 academic calendar with a special state exemption.
After receiving public feedback for its District of Innovation (DOI) calendar flexibility plan, LISD staff have put together two potential school calendars — one under the DOI plan, the other without — for the public to view. Ultimately, the Board of Trustees will determine whether to approve it at their Feb. 15 meeting.
“We gathered suggestions, recommendations and ideas from community members, staff and parents through a variety of committees, meetings and groups,” said Chief Academic Officer Matt Bentz.
One of the main trends in the feedback gathered was a desire for winter break to begin Monday, Dec. 24 so there could be three weekends. For elementary schools, staff and parents expressed a need for an early release day to better facilitate elementary parent-teacher conferences at the end of the first nine weeks of school.
In the “Calendar B” DOI option, school could start Thursday, Aug. 16, and end earlier on Friday, May 31 with both the request for winter break starting on Dec. 24 and the early elementary release day for parent-teacher conferences included, according to board documents. This makes for a shorter first week, and there will only be one bad weather day built in.
“Five days is a lot for a kindergartner,” said Will Streit.
In the “Calendar A” non-DOI option, the calendar will essentially reflect the current calendar with the Monday, Aug. 27 start date and a Friday, June 7 end date with two bad weather days built in. However, the adjustment for winter break to begin on Monday, Dec. 24 is included.
In the “B” option, the calendar ends up with a more balanced amount of its 176 instructional days in both semesters for high schools at 83 days in the first semester, and 93 days in the second. For elementary schools,which operate in nine week groupings, there are 87 days in the fall and 89 days in the spring.
In the “A” option, there are 78 days in the fall, then 98 days in the spring for high schools. Bentz said he was unable to verify at the meeting the numbers for elementary schools.
Both calendars have their spring breaks aligned with the University of Texas, which is March 12 - 17.
“You’re going to hear from both sides that may have concerns about either calendar,” Superintendent Dan Troxell said to the board. “We believe very strongly the DOI sample is the superior model for a number of reasons, as we get out earlier in the summer and starting on Thursday is much better for our students. We believe balancing semesters is an advantage. We are open to changing what you think is best for our children.”
You can find both of the calendar presentations to the Board of Trustees here.