Parkway e-News Story

School Calendar Development Process

At its April 11 meeting, the Parkway Board of Education will begin the review process for the 2008-09 Academic Year Calendar. Many parents have asked how the dates for the annual academic calendar are determined. For developing the 2008-09 academic calendar, several thousand parents, secondary students and staff members were surveyed on their reactions to the 2007-2008 calendar and their preferences for scheduling future school years. The features that survey respondents liked best about the new calendar were having fall finals scheduled before winter break and ending the school year earlier in May. Although most did not like the Aug. 13 start in 2007, the majority of parents, students and high school staff did like having finals before winter break. Early Childhood and elementary faculty members were less supportive of this position. The survey respondents also tended to favor the earlier spring break and four-day weekends built into the 2007-2008 calendar, and to agree that the Parkway calendar should match with the calendars of surrounding districts. To view the complete survey in PDF format, click on the following link: http://www.pkwy.k12.mo.us/eNews/pdf/calendarsurvey.pdf Additionally, below are some questions and answers that help further explain the planning process. Why are calendars approved two years ahead? This is done primarily to assist parents and schools in scheduling vacations, summer school, and other activities requiring advance reservations and coordination of schedules. What are the most critical factors in determining school start and end dates? The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) sets requirements for the minimum number of student attendance days and hours per year as well as the minimum number of minutes to receive course credits per semester. These requirements must be met. In addition, the length of semesters must be closely balanced to preserve equity in curriculum for all students. Why did Parkway begin scheduling high school finals before winter break? In surveys distributed to nearly 5,800 secondary students, staff and parents, there was a strong preference for this option. In addition, most other area school districts are already scheduling high school final exams in December, and we try to be as consistent as possible with calendars of surrounding districts. For example, most area districts will start school sometime during the week of Aug. 13, 2007. What other factors are considered? Some of the academic concerns include minimizing summer learning loss, avoiding conflicts with testing dates and balancing numbers of school days and days off between semesters. In addition, family preferences have included: 1) Providing reasonable starting and ending dates; 2) Providing common days off for all students; 3) Setting reasonable breaks with "chunks" of time, e.g., day before Thanksgiving, two weeks at winter break; and 4) Using predictable patterns in breaks, e.g., spring break during end of March.