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Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we start school before Labor Day?
The school division became eligible for a waiver to start school before Labor Day in 2013, for the start of the 2013-14 school year because we had missed at least an average of eight days for a minimum of five years over a ten year period. Starting before Labor Day was determined to have some advantages including ending the first semester before winter break (exams, SOL testing, and benchmarks could be completed before the break) and the school year could end before Memorial Day. As long as the school division continues to meet the average number of missed days, it can start before Labor Day. Based on current days missed, the division should be eligible for a waiver for at least another five years.
How many days and/or hours constitute a school year?
A school year consists of 180 school days or 990 hours of instructional time. These are the minimum requirements. For high school credit courses there is an additional requirement to meet 140 clock hours of instruction for each course which requires more than 990 hours of instructional time at the secondary level.
How long is a minimum school day?
A school day consists of 5.5 instructional hours at a minimum. Lunch time, recess, time for class changes, etc. do not count as part of the instructional day.
How is additional instructional time counted?
Additional instructional time beyond the 5.5 hours is counted to build up “bank time” that may be used to offset time missed for delayed openings, early dismissals or school closings. “Bank time” for the division is accrued based on the school(s) with the shortest instructional day.
What are the requirements for making up days or time missed?
Days missed must be made up or additional instructional time may be used to ensure that the minimum 990 hour requirement is met. A waiver may be requested in the event of extreme or unusual circumstances of days missed, but the division must show that it has exhausted all possible methods to make up days or missed time.
Why do we use make-up days first instead of bank time?
Weather conditions are unpredictable and having make-up days in the calendar provides a cushion in the event of a severe winter with numerous days missed. This also prevents the need to add days at the end of the year or make other calendar adjustments if more time is missed than has been “banked.”
Why are some federal/state holidays (Columbus Day, Veterans Day, etc.) not included in the school calendar?
In order to stay within the parameters of starting students in mid-August and ending the first semester before winter break, it is not possible to include all of the holidays without giving up other things such as a workday at the end of the grading period, the Wednesday for the Thanksgiving Break, etc. The first semester does not have much flexibility in adding holidays because of the need to meet the clock/seat hour requirements for high school courses and to finish the first semester of the 4×4 block schedule at the high school before the winter break. To add additional days to the first semester to allow for more holiday closings would require starting the school year earlier than previously planned.
Why does the winter break vary in length from year to year?
Since Christmas Day and New Year’s Day do not always fall on the same day of the week, the length of winter break varies according to the day of the week the holidays fall on. This is a similar scenario to the previous question about including additional federal/state holidays in the calendar. It is not possible to always to have two full weeks with three weekends for the winter break without giving up something else or starting the school year earlier with teachers and students.