HISD passes extended school year

February 12, 2010 4:34:39 PM PST
HISD's school board voted unanimously Thursday night to pass voluntary extended year instruction. The extended year instruction option passed 7-0.

About 10 to 15 schools would take part in a two-year trial run. The students' school year would be broken into four quarters. Kids would go to school for about two months, then have a 17 day break before restarting the next quarter.

HISD says the extended school year works out to only about 10 additional school days.

The features of the proposed calendar include:
August 23, 2010, as the first day of instruction for students and July 28, 2011, as the last day of instruction for students. There would be four instructional quarters, with a two-week break between quarters:

  • First Quarter: August 23 - October 28, 2010
  • Second Quarter: November 15, 2010 - February 3, 2011
  • Third Quarter: February 21 - April 28, 2011
  • Fourth Quarter: May 16 - July 28, 2011
  • There would also be 190 days of instruction and ten teacher service/preparation days, for a total of 200 teacher workdays. Teachers would have a preparation day after each quarter.

    The following holidays are included:

  • Labor Day: September 6, 2010
  • Thanksgiving: November 24 - 26, 2010
  • Winter Break: December 20 - 31, 2010
  • Martin Luther King Holiday: January 17, 2011
  • Spring Holiday: April 22, 2011
  • Memorial Day: May 30, 2011
  • Independence Day Holiday: July 4 - 6, 2011
  • At East Early College High School, the extended year is already a reality. This eastside HISD charter school offers college prep courses for those who want it. However, some educators admit the traditional three month summer break at HISD does have its downside.

    Tambra Bolden, Dean of Students, East Early College HS, said, "I've been at other schools where you have to spend the first three to four weeks of class going over curriculum from the previous year because kids do forget. I think a longer school year would be a benefit at traditional schools."

    Offering an extended year for all HISD students is being considered. The proposed HISD extended school year would stretch the current 175 days of instruction to 190 days. Classes would begin August 23 this year but wouldn't conclude until July 28 next year. The extended year program would be aimed at low performing schools, while other schools could volunteer to participate.

    HISD officials have stressed the extended year would not be forced on any school and would not be implemented without parent support. That's a relief to these parents who admit a longer school year would mean a disruption of home life for their kids.

    "They have to rearrange their schedule. They are used to being off the summer, that's their break," said parent Belinda Herrera. "Now if they do the year round they may not be able to take that break and as a parent we also need a break."

    The subject will be up for a second vote at next month's board meeting.