Ask HISD: What is the process for deciding the school calendar?

Q: Why was HISD’s spring break different from neighboring districts’? I thought the State of Texas had implemented a uniform spring break policy. And where can I register a protest about next year’s calendar? I just noticed that the designated make-up dates for the 2014–2015 school year are the same as this year’s: Good Friday and Memorial Day.

A: There is no state-decreed uniform spring break policy, so calendars may indeed vary from district to district. Since each district determines its own school calendar independently, it is entirely possible that they could all have different holidays.

The Texas Education Agency mandates procedures for setting calendars and for designating and publicizing makeup days, and HISD has a committee made up of 20 teachers, parents, campus leaders, administrators, and business and community partners that presents its recommendations to the administration—and ultimately, to the Board of Education—for approval each year.

The process generally starts in October, with a draft calendar that takes state laws and past practices into account. Committee members then discuss the nuances that may need adjusting, such as the number of days teachers have for training  prior to the start of the school year, make-up days, report card grading cycles periods, and  early dismissal days.

The 2014–2015 academic calendar has already been approved by the Board of Education, but the district has asked the calendar committee to look at possible alternatives to the designated make-up days for the 2015–2016 school year. It is so rare that HISD has had to use these make-up days that it is possible the committee may decide not to change them.

If you wish to register a complaint about the calendar, please sign up to speak at an upcoming Board of Education meeting.

You may also wish to read these related articles about make-up days, how HISD determines if threatening weather is bad enough to warrant closing schools, and how other districts face the same challenge.

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