Gilbert Public Schools to start earlier, extend breaks beginning in 2022-23 school year

Lori Wood
Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board Member Lori Wood expresses her concerns about parts of the proposed school calendars for 2022-23 and 2023-24. (Screen shot from YouTube)

Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board Member Lori Wood expresses her concerns about parts of the proposed school calendars for 2022-23 and 2023-24. (Screen shot from YouTube)

Gilbert Public Schools will move to an earlier start of its school year and add a week to its fall and spring breaks for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years.

The governing board unanimously approved those changes at its Feb. 23 meeting. However, the final form of those school calendars remains to be seen as the motion to approve the “2-2-2” format—two weeks for fall, winter and spring breaks—from board member Jill Humpherys included a proviso that the calendar be brought back for possible modifications.

Humpherys said any changes should be slight.

That request to modify the calendar came from board member Lori Wood, who expressed concern at the number of half days for teacher development as well as the alignment of the “spring holiday” to spring break on the calendars and how those two things affect the flow of learning.

Wood said she was concerned that half days, with their compressed schedules, impact what can be taught during a school period and thus negatively impact the learning environment.

As for spring break and holiday, she noted the 2023-24 calendar has students off for spring break March 11-22, then coming back for a four-day week followed by a four-day weekend.

In the 2022-23 calendar, it was March 13-24, but one week later, the calendar calls for a four-day week followed by a four-day weekend. Wood further noted that the breaks come as teachers and students prepare for testing season, and she wondered if one of the spring holiday days could be cut for an additional day of learning or moved to another point in the calendar.

Elementary Education Executive Director Jason Martin said an additional day of learning on teacher contracts would cost the district between $700,000-$750,000.

Board member Reed Carr said he, too, was concerned about some of the specifics on the calendar, including a seven-week period that starts the week of Feb. 19, 2023, in which there are no weeks with five full days of learning.

Martin suggested modifications, such as moving the year’s start date, could address some of the concerns. A proposal could come back to the board in March.

Under the current proposed calendars, the school year would start July 25 in 2022 and July 24 in 2023, nine days earlier than they would under a 1-2-1 calendar.

District surveys showed the 2-2-2 proposal was slightly favored by parents and strongly favored by staff over the 1-2-1 calendar, which is what the district uses now. It also brings the district into closer calendar alignment with neighboring districts Chandler USD, Higley USD and Queen Creek USD, all of which use a 2-2-2 calendar.

Other items

  • GPS will receive $1.48 million in results-based funding from the state to be distributed at 10 campuses based on a complex statutory formula largely weighed on testing results, Superintendent Shane McCord said. The schools are Ashland Ranch Elementary, Canyon Rim Elementary, Carol Rae Ranch Elementary, Gilbert Classical Academy, Greenfield Elementary, Harris Elementary, Highland Park Elementary, Neely Traditional Academy, Quartz Hill Elementary and Patterson Elementary. As it has done in previous years, the board approved a district plan to allocate 90% of the money at each campus to staff stipends and 10% to teacher development.

  • GPS will receive $9.72 million in the second round of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, funds, which will help the district’s budget, Business Services Assistant Superintendent Bonnie Betz said. A revised budget will be presented to the board at its March 2 meeting.

By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.