Tuesday, June 13, 2017


The results of a school calendar poll administered last month show 85% of Boise District patrons and staff in favor of a proposal in which first semester would end prior to the Winter Holiday Break and the school year would end the weekend before the Memorial Day holiday. If implemented, the new school calendar would go into effect for the 2018-19 school year.

To date, there have been 4,991 responses to the survey. 1,706 came from Boise District staff, and 3,285 were from patrons and parents. 87% of patron/parent responses were in favor of the change, while 83% of staff responses were affirmative.

Here is the prologue to the survey, intended to provide information about the proposed calendar change:

With a focus on student achievement, the Boise School District's Calendar Committee is considering modifying the 2018-2019 calendar to end the First Semester prior to the Winter Holiday Break, which will result in ending the school year before the Memorial Day weekend - the last week of May.

Currently, First Semester ends about two weeks after Winter Break and secondary students spend that 'break' studying and preparing for their final exams.  The school year currently ends after Memorial Day in June.  

Making the shift to the new calendar for the 2018-2019 School Year will:
* Allow students and teachers to finish the First Semester before, rather than after, the Winter Holiday Break.
* Allow secondary students to take End of Course Assessments prior to their Winter Holiday Break, reducing the potential that students will forget the content that they learned over the course of the First Semester and prevent students from having to spend the Winter Holiday Break studying or completing projects.
* Allow students to rest during the Winter Holiday Break and not worry about studying for finals or completing projects that would be due at the end of the semester.
* Allow all students to get a fresh start for second semester after the Winter Holiday Break.
* Allow students to have more days of instruction before standardized and Advanced Placement testing occurs in the spring.
* Mirror what is done at most colleges and universities with first semester ending before Winter Holiday Break and second semester starting after.
* Allow teachers to be more efficient with instruction preventing the need in January to reteach material due to the current holiday break between instruction and finals.
* Eliminate days from the District Calendar that traditionally have poor attendance which impacts the amount of funding the District receives from the State for instructional purposes.
* With final exams being given before Winter Holiday Break, rigorous instruction will occur right up until break.
* Allow teachers to complete grades and report cards prior to the Winter Holiday Break by giving them two half days in December.  

2018-19 Proposed School Schedule (The length of the school year would remain the same and students would have the same number of days of vacation):
     * August 9:Teachers on duty 
     * August 15:  First day of school  
     * October 12:  End of 1st Quarter
     * November 19 - 23: Thanksgiving Week Off
     * December 19, 20, 21:  Secondary End of Semester Testing
     * December 21: End of 1st Semester (Early Release - Winter Holiday Break Begins)
     * December 24-January 4: Winter Holiday Break (2 Full Weeks)
     * March 15: End of 3rd quarter
     * March 18-22: Spring Break
     * May 24: Last Day of School (Early Release prior to Memorial Day) 

If the proposed calendar were implemented, the summer of 2018 would be shorter than normal, since school would let out under the old calendar on June 1, 2018 and begin under the new calendar on August 15. However, the last day of school in 2018 would be May 24, the Friday prior to Memorial Day, about a week earlier than under the old calendar.

The new calendar would maintain Thanksgiving week and Spring Break as a week off from school, and the Winter Holiday Break would remain two weeks, as was the case in the old calendar.

Survey Responses - Statistical Breakdown

Here is a summary of the breakdown of responses on the calendar survey:

As you can see, there was overwhelming support for the calendar change from every subgroup surveyed.  The lowest degree of support came from elementary staff, and most of the "No" responses in that group revolved around starting school on August 15 (staff would report for duty on August 9). It seems logical that secondary staff would have heightened interest in the calendar change, since semester tests now occur two weeks after students get back from the Holiday Break. 

Tallies of responses with comments (where applicable) are available for staff and for parents and community.

The Board of Trustees will consider the 2018-19 calendar in October of 2017. Prior to their consideration, District officials will hold Focus Groups for students, staff, and parents to ascertain any concerns with particular elements of the calendar, and meet with principals and other staff to review particulars of the proposed calendar. District and Boise Education Association negotiations team members will also meet about the proposed calendar. Public comment will be welcomed at Board meetings preceding approval-disapproval of the proposed calendar.