In a February 8 meeting, the LISD School Board members voted 4-3 in favor of an Aug. 15 start date for the 2018-19 school year. That is nearly two weeks earlier than usual.
The board members had three calendars to choose from. According to the official notes from the school board meeting, parents overwhelmingly voted for Option B, which allowed for two fewer days of school during the year. LISD administration recommended option A, and four of the seven trustees went with the recommendation. (All three options are below)
In the official notes from the school board meeting:
The proposed 2018-2019 calendar was developed by the District of Innovation (DoI)/DEIC committees and meets the requirements of the state and local policy. Lubbock I.S.D. is a District of Innovation which allows the flexibility to begin school prior to the 4th Monday of August as outlined in the law. The proposed calendar contains and reflects this along with the following features:
172 instructional days
16 full days for professional development and preparation – two of these days will be “flex days” which will allow teachers to receive compensation for professional development completed during the summer. This is three fewer days than the 2017-2018 calendar
Two early release days for parent GOALS conferences for elementary schools
Four early release days for end of semester final examinations for secondary schools
Two early release days for end of semester for elementary schools
21 student and staff holidays (one of which is a weather make-up day if needed)
Three draft calendars were developed by the DoI/DEIC committees and were posted on the L.I.S.D. website along with a feedback survey link. Responses representing all stakeholder groups revealed that the majority of parents surveyed favor the proposed calendar, “Draft B”. However, the survey indicated that the majority of educators preferred “Draft A”. The DEIC considered this data as well as data collected through the District of Innovation process. The purpose of the DoI was to increase the number of student days to improve student learning. The majority vote of the DEIC was in favor of calendar "Draft A."
Of the three calendars, the biggest difference was the start date for each option. Option A had a start date of Aug. 15, Option B had a start date of Aug. 20, and Option C had a start date of Aug. 16. Option A also gives students off Jan. 7 after the Christmas break. That day is given to the staff for professional development. Options B and C had students back in school on Jan. 7.
The state requires students to be in school for 75,600 minutes. All three options scheduled more minutes in school than the required number. Options A has students in school for 172 days or 79,120 minutes. Option C has students in school for 171 days or 78,660 minutes. Option B, the option parents and students chose, is 170 days, or 78,200 minutes.
The last day of school is the same on all three calendars, May 24. The holidays and the staff requirements are also the same for each calendar option.
LISD officials gave KCBD a statement on the process:
We entered into the District of Innovation (DOI) process this year, which is the Legislature’s remedy to provide districts with local control. Our District of Innovation process centered around what we could do as a district to improved student achievement and student outcomes.
The process included elected representatives from every school, in addition to parents and community stakeholders. We went through several months of meetings and developed three things we could change to meet our goals of students achievement and performance. The calendar is one of the three things the committee studied and the calendar adopted by the board was their recommendation. We were "between a rock and a hard place" to select a calendar preferred by parents or a calendar preferred by a committee that had spent months studying the potential impact.
We have been doing calendar surveys since at least 2009 and this is the first year we have not approved a calendar consistent with the parent survey; however, this is the lowest survey participation we have ever had and we had a new process with the District of Innovation.
We also recognize that not all of our stakeholder parents have a voice in an electronic survey. We make computers available at school for parents, but with more than 60% of students from low socioeconomic households those parents have difficulty getting to school to take a survey.
The DOI committee recommendation to the board was doing what they thought was in the best interest of student academic achievement.
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