SSISD advisory committee considering calendars that end school in May or June
Bruce Alsobrook | News-Telegram Editor

Jan. 23, 2007 - Like it or not — and there are players on both sides of the issue — school will start late in August this year, and there's no way around it.

There's also no way around splitting the end of the first semester around the Christmas break. Students will go home for the holidays Dec. 21 and come back in January for less than two weeks before taking mid-term exams.

What's yet to be decided is how late the school year will run.

Sulphur Springs Independent School District's Advisory Council was presented two proposed calendars on Jan. 17, one that has the school year ending May 29, 2008, the other on June 5.

After discussion on the calendars, the advisory council decided "to take the two calendars back to campuses and the community for more input."

Assistant Superintendent Randy Reed asked that commitee members submit their first choice by Wednesday, Jan. 24, and the calendar receiving the most overall votes will be recommended to the SSISD board of trustees for approval in February.

Reed could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

A new law forces Texas public schools to start later than some would like. State legislators last year added a provision in the school funding overhaul bill that required schools to start classes no earlier than the fourth Monday in August, with no exceptions.

In years past, SSISD has been able to end the first semester before the Christmas break by gathering signatures from parents in support of a waiver from Texas Education Agency allowing the district to start school early. The new regulations prohibit such waivers, however.

Complicating scheduling for the next school year is a request by the district for four additional days of staff development, which the state education agency approved.

One draft of next year's calendar has most of the added development days in August prior to the start of school, allowing classes to end in May. The other draft spreads days out through the school year and puts the final day of class at June 5.

There are pros and cons to both. The calendar that ends in May would have teachers showing up for staff development/preparation Aug. 15-17 and Aug. 20-24, while teachers wouldn't report until Aug. 20 under the June calendar.

Under the May calendar, there would be one additional day in the first semester for staff  development, on Monday, Oct. 8. The June calendar sets aside a four-weekend for students by scheduling staff workdays on Friday, Oct. 26 and Monday, Oct. 29

Whichever calendar is approved, some dates won't change, including the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, and spring break.

School will let out on Friday, Dec. 21, for the holiday break and won't return until Monday, Jan. 7.

Spring break will be the third week in March, running from Monday, March 17 to Friday, March 21.

Also, school holidays have been set aside for Labor Day (Sept. 3) and the Hopkins County Fall Festival Day (Sept. 14) on both calendars.

Many school districts that have made decisions or come up with final drafts seem to be deciding to end school in June.

McKinney and Richardson ISDs have approved calendars ending on June 4; Lewisville, Irving and Frisco ISDs will close school on June 5. Coppell ISD has even approved calendars for the next two years that take the end of the school year to the first Thursday in June.

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