According to Texas Education Code 25.0811, a District may not begin instruction for students for a school year before the fourth Monday in August unless the District operates a year-round system. The District may not receive a waiver of this requirement.
- Why doesn’t AISD give a shorter Thanksgiving and/or Winter Break to better balance the number of days per semester, end school earlier in the spring, and help parents with child care concerns?
Over the last several years, AISD has asked for feedback from the community on the possibility of shorter Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks. Overwhelmingly, the community has responded negatively to shorter Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks. Parents have commented that they need the longer Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks to travel to distant family members, to better divide joint custody time, and to plan events with their students. Therefore, AISD has respected the requests of the majority of the community and gone with longer Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks.
- Why doesn’t the first semester end after the Winter Break to better balance the number of days per semester?
A) In the 2007-08 and 2008-09 Academic Calendars, AISD did end the first semester in January after Winter Break. The community’s response to this schedule was negative. Parents want their students to have a break from school and not have to worry about final exams after the holidays. This greatly reduces stress on students. Additionally, teachers felt that they had to use the post-Winter Break weeks to review materials so that the students were refreshed on subjects before final exams. Many students take dual credit courses, giving them both high school and college credit. These courses must be completed before Winter Break to coincide with the college semester schedule.
B) Many students graduate in December and start college in January. Therefore, these students must finish before Winter Break in order to complete their high school requirements so that they can start college in January.
C) Of the approximately 800 courses offered at the Lowery Freshman Center and Allen High School, there are only about 70 courses (excluding physical education) that are one semester long. So the semester ending before Winter Break only impacts approximately 9% of all high school courses.
D) Many students move in to Allen at semester and start school in January. If the semester ends in January it may adversely affect their graduation credits.
E) Although the two semesters appear to be unbalanced as to the number of days, mandatory district and state testing in the Spring Semester requires over two weeks of instructional days, which does bring the semesters into a better balance. Even if not all grades are testing every day, the testing procedures require limited activity by the entire school population.
- How does AISD decide on the placement of the Bad Weather Days? Why not make Memorial Day a Bad Weather Day?
When AISD looks at the Bad Weather make-up days, we first have to plan any days in late spring after the possibility of inclement weather. We also look at dates that will least disrupt plans for holidays and summer break. AISD has considered making Memorial Day a Bad Weather make-up day, but we believe that attendance on that day would be considerably lower than a regular school day. Lower attendance is a factor in our state funding, so we do not want to jeopardize any funding for our students. AISD has traditionally scheduled the Bad Weather make-up days around a weekend in the spring to allow parents and students to make plans if the day is not used. We have also made the day after the last day of school a Bad Weather make-up day (traditionally a Friday) so that there will be the least disruption to families that have made summer travel plans immediately after school ends.
- Students lose instruction with so many days reserved for staff development. Why are there so many Staff Development and state waiver days in a school year?
The state of Texas requires 180 days of instruction per Education Code 25.081. Pursuant to Education Code 25.081, the state also allows districts to use up to 5 waiver days to train staff on various educational strategies designed to improve student performance or to conduct additional staff training for core courses. Given the major changes in curriculum set forth in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and the transition to the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), AISD has decided that it is in the best interest of the students that AISD staff gets as much up-to-date training as possible. The decision to use 3 waiver days, allows teachers to better prepare lessons and ensure that students are being taught the state adopted curriculum. The revised curriculum is the basis for the STAAR testing that is required in the spring semester. Using waiver days saves valuable tax dollars since no substitutes are required; therefore, these savings can then be used for other instructional needs.
- Why can’t AISD have a week for Fall Break like in the past?
Years ago, the school year started at the beginning of August, which allowed for a Fall Break week. With the change in state law, the District may not begin instruction for students for a school year before the fourth Monday in August. Therefore, the district no longer has the flexibility or time to schedule a Fall Break. AISD has sought input from the community on the idea of a short Fall Break that would be offset with a shorter Thanksgiving Break. The public response to this suggestion was decidedly in favor of a full week for Thanksgiving, rather than 2 shortened holiday breaks in the fall.
- Why doesn’t AISD do Early Release Days for Staff Development?
AISD has found that Early Release Days put an undue burden on parents because many are forced to find and pay for child care when the students are not in school. Early Release Days also create logistical problems for bus transportation routes.
- Why doesn’t AISD have other breaks in the Spring Semester in addition to Spring Break?
Considering community response in favor of longer Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks, any additional days off in the Spring Semester would force the school year to end even later in June. We have also gotten community feedback that many people like the earliest dismissal as possible, in late May or early June.