“I know that every year the calendar is always a hot item of debate and discussion,” trustee Lori Twomey said. “This year [2019-20], we tried out the weeklong breaks, and I have received overwhelming positive feedback in my discussions—which were very much in line with the calendar survey that we did.”
Twomey also thanked the administration for moving the October break to the end of the month and term, which she said will keep students from coming back from break to multiple tests.
According to the board agenda packet, the district requested input on the calendar from Nov. 20 to Dec. 8, garnering 14,634 responses from the parents and staff members. Instead of giving the them two or three calendar drafts to choose from, district officials asked participants to select their preferred first day of school as well as whether they wanted a weeklong break in October and/or in February, a shorter break in October and/or in February, or no break in October and/or in February.
Per the results, 65% and 62% of those surveyed preferred a weeklong break in October and February, respectively. Additionally, most people surveyed preferred the first day of school to start on Aug. 10 followed closely behind by Aug. 12.
The district presented and the trustees approved a calendar with a start date of Aug. 11, two weeklong breaks in October and February, and May 28 as the last day of school.
Trustee Robert Scarfo asked district officials what was being done to encourage and incentivize survey engagement among parents and staff members, as only 29% of the people who received the survey participated in it.
HISD Chief Communications Officer Jamie Mount said the district will be considering ways to increase the calendar survey participation in following years.