McKinney-area school districts shorten school year by lengthening days

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Many McKinney-area public school students will start summer 2021 sooner as school districts shift to longer school days.

The longer days will allow an entire week to be trimmed off of the end of the school year, meaning a longer summer break for students.

McKinney ISD was not the only district to do this. MISD and Frisco ISD will both have extended days next year. MISD approved a seven-minute extension and FISD approved a 10-minute extension during November school board meetings.

MISD and Frisco ISD, two of four school districts with schools in McKinney, will both have extended days next school year. Plano ISD is also looking into this.

MISD approved a seven-minute extension, and FISD approved a 10-minute extension during their respective November school board meetings.

“How [the minutes are] used for social and emotional learning, intervention and enrichment will be something that happens across the board,” said Clarence Williams, FISD executive director for support services.

These longer school days will start in August 2020, officials said.

As long as a district offers at least 75,600 instructional minutes each school year, it may allocate those minutes however it chooses, said Cody Cunningham, MISD’s chief communications and support services officer, during the November meeting.

Leaders from both districts said the 2020-21 calendar was created in response to community feedback.

Parents and staff had expressed interest in ending the year, before Memorial Day, according to district officials. Typically, the year ends the week of the holiday, meaning students are out for an extra day during the last week of school.

Going forward, the newly approved calendars will end the school year nearly a week earlier. The last day for both districts next school year will be May 21, 2021.

Calendar changes

Instead of ending in the first week of June as usual, this seven-minute extension will allow the MISD to wrap up each school year in mid- to late May—before Memorial Day, which falls on May 31 in 2021.

The last week of school has arguably not been the most effective as it stands, Cunningham said during a Nov. 19 board of trustees meeting. Having students out for the holiday just decreases productivity the rest of the week, he added.

“By [making] a slight increase in the day, you’re really able to knock off a whole week at the end of school, and some might argue that that is not the most productive week of the school year,” Cunningham said during the meeting. “We will end a week before Memorial Day, which will be great.”

It should be easy for campuses to incorporate the additional seven minutes and make it beneficial to students, Cunningham said. In addition, he said the district is opting to add the extra seven minutes to the end of the school day, so it will be an easier transition for students and parents.

Other districts

Allen and Prosper ISDs, which serve portions of McKinney, were among the first districts to make these calendar changes. AISD has been ending its school year prior to Memorial Day since last year, and PISD will end earlier than the holiday for the first time this May.

Plano ISD is also looking to lengthen its school days by a few minutes in certain grade levels, according to calendar drafts presented at the school board’s Nov. 19 work session. The district will make a decision during its Dec. 10 board meeting.

Parents, students and teachers have expressed mixed emotions about these changes. Parents on social media said they are concerned about arranging for an extra week of child care during the summer. Others said they look forward to having their children out of school a week earlier.
By Emily Davis

Emily graduated from Sam Houston State University with a degree in multi-platform journalism and a minor in criminal justice in Spring 2018. During her studies, Emily worked as an editor and reporter at The Houstonian, SHSU's local newspaper. Upon graduation, she began an editorial internship at Community Impact Newspaper in DFW, where she was then hired as Community Impact's first McKinney reporter in August. Three fun facts about Emily: 1.) She is a lover of mystery novels, movies, TV shows and podcasts. 2.) She has an 11-year-old, 3-pound Pomeranian. 3.) She loves lacrosse, and was captain and then coach of her high school team.


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