Calendar drafts with longer class days for 2020-21 school year presented to Plano ISD board of trustees

Three proposed drafts for the 2020-21 school year were presented to the Plano ISD board of trustees Nov. 19. The board is expected to vote on a final recommended calendar Dec. 10. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Three proposed drafts for the 2020-21 school year were presented to the Plano ISD board of trustees Nov. 19. The board is expected to vote on a final recommended calendar Dec. 10. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Three proposed drafts for the 2020-21 school year were presented to the Plano ISD board of trustees Nov. 19. The board is expected to vote on a final recommended calendar Dec. 10. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Plano ISD trustees discussed three calendar options for the 2020-21 school year Nov. 19 at a regular work session, each with extended class days for elementary and middle school students.

The drafts show school start times for elementary and middles schools beginning five minutes earlier in the day. Elementary schools would start at 7:40 a.m., while middle schools would begin the day at 8:25 a.m. The additional five minutes each day will mean two days less in class for students while still meeting total minutes requirements for the year, according to PISD Chief Operating Officer Theresa Williams.

High school and Academy High School students would remain at the same length school days as the year before.

The additional morning minutes will not affect bus schedules, food services or arrival times for teachers, Williams said. This change will also allow for teachers to have two less days of class, making PISD more comparable to surrounding school districts, Williams said.

“We want to make sure that that we stay competitive with our surrounding school districts in the community,” Williams said.

Neighboring Frisco and McKinney ISDs recently voted to extend their school days for the 2020-21 school year. Frisco ISD will be adding 10 minutes to the end of each day, while McKinney ISD will be extending the school day by 7 minutes.

FISD has 430 minute days for their elementary and middle school students this year. PISD currently has 420 minute days for the same grades.

The process for creating these drafts began in August, and an online survey was made available in September. The survey data was shared with the board of trustees and calendar vetting groups before the drafts were presented to the board. The district expects to vote on a final recommended calendar at the Dec. 10 trustee board meeting.

There were roughly 5,600 responses to the online survey provided by PISD this fall, according to an Oct. 15 PISD report. Of the respondents, 75% said they were parents in the district. Some of the preferred options from that survey made it into one or more of the calendar drafts, such as ending the year before Memorial Day. Student respondents placed more emphasis on having a fall break, the results said.

“I think it's just a matter of opinion as far as, you know, [pleasing] which group in that survey,” Williams said. “We tried our very best to take that input into consideration.”

The three calendar options vary in the spacing of instructional days, staff days and student-teacher holidays. Items such as spring break will likely depend on when Collin College takes its spring break so dual-credit students do not miss a week of class, Williams said. Thanksgiving break remains as a full week off for students on all three drafts.

The drafts are guided by teacher contract days and compensation, the length of the school day, planning and professional learning time, and balanced semesters, Williams said. The district also works to consider exam and testing calendars for the state and district, survey and stakeholder input, student activities and graduation, she said.

The main differences between the three proposed drafts can be seen below:

Calendar A:

Midweek start for first day of school

Extended planning day on the day after Labor Day

Winter break extended by one day

Earlier spring break

May 27 end date

Out before Memorial Day

Calendar B:

Monday start for first week of school

Extended planning day and additional student/teacher holiday attached to Labor Day

Provides a mini-fall break

Extended planning day attached to Spring Break

May 27 end date

Out before Memorial Day

Calendar C:

Midweek start for first day of school

Extended planning day Friday before Labor Day

May 26 end date

Out before Memorial Day

Both inclement weather days occur after the last day of school
By Liesbeth Powers

Liesbeth graduated from Baylor University with a degree in new media journalism in December 2018. She gained her newspaper experience as a staff writer and multimedia editor at her campus paper, The Baylor Lariat. Liesbeth joined the Community Impact team in August 2019, where she reports on all things Plano, including education and transportation.


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