Staggered start to school impacts student schedules

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's been a staggered start to the school year for many schools in the Houston area, and the changes will have parents reaching for their instructional calendars all year long.

Some districts started school as early as August 16. Their decision was made, in part, since the state regulated start date was set for August 28, the fourth Monday in August. That start date gave districts less time for the fall semester compared to the spring semester.

"We want to stop the first semester usually by winter break. There's a lot of benefits to stopping it by then," said Kathleen Jahn with Alief ISD which started its instructional calendar on August 16. "When the days are so uneven, it doesn't give teachers the amount of time to really get into the content with the students and allow students to retain the material and be successful."

Districts with a special "District of Innovation" designation were allowed to start as early as they wanted. The designation gives districts more flexibility on their start dates, class sizes and a number of other state mandates. There were some districts with the special designation that opted to not exercise their school start exemption.

After analyzing dozens of Houston area school district instructional calendars, ABC13 found that regardless of start dates, many student holidays and breaks will stay the same for all districts including Thanksgiving, spring and Easter breaks. Winter breaks differ from district to district as do last days of school.

It's important to get a copy of your student's instructional calendar this year to learn more about specific deviations, if any, from last year's calendar.

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