The district calendar adopted Monday night by Sulphur Springs school trustees is very similar to the 2012-2013 year calendar, with a few exceptions.
The 2013-2014 year calendar includes six regular holidays — Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2; Fall Festival day, Friday, Sept. 20; Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 20, two weeks at Christmas; Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 17; Good Friday, April 18; and Memorial Day, Monday, May 26. It should be noted, however, that Good Friday and Memorial Day are contingent on the weather; should classes be canceled for bad weather, those days would be the days used to “make them up.”
The calendar also includes a full week, Nov. 25-29, for Thanksgiving and another March 10-14 for spring break, but the first two days of spring break on the calendar appear to be staff preparation/development days. That’s a bit misleading, according to Sulphur Springs Independent School District Superintendent Michael Lamb.
No staff will actually be working at the school campuses March 10-11, Lamb emphasized.
The dates reflect a new professional and required staff development policy approved by the school board Monday night which includes two additional staff development days, bringing the total required to 12 per year. The district is applying for a waiver, which would allow flexibility in when staff puts in the hours.
Each teacher, administrator or specialist would be responsible for getting the 12 non-duty clock hours between March and February of the calendar year on their own. The district, however, is required to reflect them on the calendar. The time off will actually be the extra time off for everyone at Thanksgiving, but is marked on the calendar as the first two days of spring break as a reminder they have to have the credit by that time.
“Those two days at spring break are a reminder of the day they have to get it done, that time is almost up. If they don’t have it done, two days of pay will be docked at their daily rate of pay. This is not hourly people. They do work during spring break. It’s not office staff. They are on a different calendar. ... If they need it, they may think they have to come those two days of spring break. Nobody — with exception of hourly staff — is coming to school on spring break,” Lamb explained.
The policy applies to contracted salaried employees, not hourly employees, who are on a different calendar, Lamb noted. The policy does include teachers, nurses, librarians, speech therapists, diagnosticians, special education itinerant staff, administrators, specialists and instructional aides.
The superintendent did note that there will be “a lot of options” by which staff can choose in those “job specific” “exchange days,” which have to be approved by their campus principal. If in doubt, contact the principal. Any alternate appeals would be made through Lamb, if exceptional circumstances exist.
Spring break is also set March 10-14 because it aligns with other schools in the competitive UIL district who have scheduled district academic meets that week. This will allow all students and staff involved in academic UIL to enjoy the full week off without having to return for the district meet, according to Assistant Superintendent Randy Reed.
Instead of having new teachers report for orientation on Friday before the rest of the staff reports for duty, new teacher orientation will begin on Wednesday, Aug. 14. District staff will report for duty Aug. 15-16, on Monday-Friday, Aug. 19-23, and again Monday, Aug. 26, giving students an extra day of summer.
Classes will begin promptly on Tuesday, Aug. 27, for all district students. As was the case this year, students will get two weeks and a day off during Christmas break, which begins Dec. 23 and ends Jan. 3. Staff will report for development Monday, Jan. 6, giving students an extra day off as classes won’t resume unit Jan. 7.
The end of the year will also be a bit different. The last class will be held Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Staff are slated to report for duty Thursday, June 5. Graduation will be Friday, June 6.
Six weeks grading periods are as follows: first — Aug. 27-Oct. 4, second — Oct. 7-Nov. 8, third — Nov. 11-Dec. 20, fourth — Jan. 7-Feb. 14, fifth — Feb. 18-April 11, and sixth — April 14-June 4.
Three days have also been designated as early release days — Sept. 6, Sept. 27 and Oct. 18. These generally coincide with mandatory parent-teacher Title 1 meetings at elementary campuses and out-of-town football games.
School administrators did note when proposing the calendar that got board approval Monday that the calendar, as always, is subject to legislative action.
A copy of the 2013-2014 school calendar is available on the district’s website, www.ssisd.net, as is a complete testing calendar and district activities calendars.
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