2017-2018 Calendar FAQs
How is the school calendar developed?
The DEIC (District Education Improvement Council), made up of parents, teachers, and community members, develop and submit calendar options for the upcoming school year with additional input from the staff, parents, and community. Once options are considered, the school district extends an invitation for community, staff and parents to vote on the calendar desired. DEIC will consider all input in developing the final calendar options prior to taking to the school board for approval.
What standard considerations were used to develop the calendar option(s)?
- Required instructional minutes: 75,600.
- House Bill 2610, passed by the 84th Legislature, strikes language in the Texas Education Code requiring 180 days of instruction and replaces this with language requiring districts to provide at least 75,600 minutes of instruction. This bill allows districts to add minutes as necessary to compensate for minutes of instruction lost due to school closures caused by inclement weather.
- Teacher contracted days
- Previous input from students, staff, and community
- State and district assessment days
- Conducive to student learning
- Compatible with surrounding districts
Is a school district required to start school at a certain time in August?
In 2005, the 79th Legislative Special Session, passed House Bill 1 which amended the Texas Education Code, Section 25.0811.First Day Of Instruction - (a) A school district may not begin instruction for students for a school year before the fourth Monday in August unless the district operates a year-round system under Section 25.084.
In the 84th Legislative Session, the state passed HB 1842 (the District of Innovation concept) which gives traditional independent school districts flexibility available to open-enrollment charter schools in Texas. NISD is considering this as an option as this would give the school district more freedom when planning for the academic calendar. When the 85th Legislative Session convenes in January 2017, there could be possible changes for this particular HB.
How many instructional days are required in the academic calendar?
Recent changes made to the Texas Education Code affects the way the school calendar is developed. House Bill 2610, passed by the 84th Legislature, strikes language in the Texas Education Code requiring 180 days of instruction and replaces this with language requiring districts to provide at least 75,600 minutes of instruction.
Does the number of instructional minutes affect state funding?
The number of instructional days or minutes has no impact on state funding. Average Daily Attendance is based on averaging attendance of all instructional days.
Why was the last day of school prior to Memorial Day in the 2016-2017 calendar and not in this calendar?
State law says school may not start until after the fourth Monday in August. The fourth Monday falls during the last week of August (August 28, 2017). Last school year, the fourth Monday fell on August 22, 2016. In order to meet the state required instructional minutes, the last day of school will be Friday, June 1, 2018 (pending Board approval).
Why do teachers have staff development?
Before school starts, teachers need time to develop their instructional plan for the year and to work with grade level and/or content peers. During the school year, occasional professional learning days are utilized to assess how students are doing with the instructional plan and to make adjustments where needed. Also, teachers need time to absorb new instructional techniques and immediately apply the knowledge learned back in their classroom. As NISD continues to develop new instructional curriculum, teachers need time to understand and plan using the new curriculum.
The early release days provide more professional development time for teachers instead of removing them from the classroom for instructional training during a regular school day, as well as time for teachers to meet with their teams or time for other instructional responsibilities as needed. Parents have provided input for students to have additional breaks during the six weeks.
Have teacher contract requirements changed in conjunction with HB 2610?
No, TEC SS 41.401 still requires that teachers employed under a 10-month contract provide a minimum of 187 days of service. Districts must consider this when creating calendars that are shorter than 180 days. NISD teachers are under contract for 187 days.
Can there be a difference in the number of minutes per semester and still be considered basically equal?
Yes. Testing days, which affect nearly all students, are scheduled in the second semester, so efforts are made to factor them into the actual number of minutes per semester. An increase of minutes in the second semester over first semester would effectively “balance” the semesters’ number of instructional minutes.
What are parent conferences?
The district has designated a specific Parent/Teacher Conference Day. The goal is for teachers to set up conferences to meet with the parents of each of their students at the end of the first six weeks.
Do bad weather days affect the calendar?
By state law, the district must provide for two bad weather days in the second semester. School districts may add minutes as necessary to compensate for minutes of instruction lost due to school closures caused by disaster, flood, extreme weather conditions, etc. Should inclement weather force school closings during the winter months, these designated days will be used for instructional days. If it is not necessary to use them as bad weather days, they will be used as student holidays.
Can a school district change the calendar after the school year has started to make up minutes lost for an unforeseen event?
Yes. Minutes can be added to days remaining in the school year to make up for an unplanned event that caused school to be closed during the school year.
Common input for developing an academic calendar
- Prefer 2 flex days prior to Thanksgiving holiday
- Prefer semester exams prior to Winter holiday
- Need breaks in fall and spring
- Prefer a teacher prep day following Winter holiday
- Prefer Good Friday as a holiday
What is the purpose of the early release days/staff development days?
The early release days were designed to help reduce the number of times teachers are removed from the classroom for staff development during the school year. The modifications will be less disruptive to the learning environment, more convenient for families and will be able to meet the objective for staff development.