Bay Village Schools approves 2018-19 school calendar, earlier start
The Bay Village Board of Education approved its 2018-19 school calendar on Monday, Jan. 22. About 50 parents and teachers attended the board meeting, some offering support of the plan and some parents expressing disappointment that the Aug. 20 start to the school year was too early.
“This calendar was developed in close consultation with our educators and will increase instructional time before testing at all grade levels,” said Superintendent Clint Keener. “However, the Ohio end-of-course tests at the high school level have become especially high-stakes. Starting with the class of 2018, the tests can determine whether students qualify for graduation.”
Bay High School operates on a 90-minute block schedule, with entire courses completed in one semester. The schedule allows students more time to study subjects in depth without interruption, and it allows them to take more courses overall. Faculty wanted the first semester to end before the December winter break so that students could take their tests without being away from instruction for that extended time. However, more instructional days before the break were then required.
Keener noted that while he prefers to give families earlier notice of coming calendars, it took longer than anticipated this year to analyze the impact of the schedule on new Ohio graduation requirements.
“We have modified this calendar from our initial proposal after hearing from parents who described difficulties presented by an earlier August start combined with the relatively late notice,” he said.
Most objections to the plan included parents with elementary-aged children who did not want such an early end to the summer break, limiting extra family time and time at the city’s pool. The summer heat was also mentioned as a problem, with some common elementary school areas (gymnasiums and lunch rooms) being without air conditioning, as well as school buses not having air conditioning (the district's classrooms are all air conditioned or will be by August). A separate issue mentioned was spring break being tied to Easter each year, rather than establishing a fixed break for students in the middle of the second semester.
“We are very much constrained by the testing windows of time set by the state, and which can shift from year to year,” said Keener, addressing the timing of spring break. “The dates for testing must include time for make-up tests, as well. In addition, we believe the vast majority of our families want to continue the tradition of tying spring break to Easter.”
The calendar was the sixth option considered by Keener, and the third he recommended to the board, after a month of fielding dozens of parent emails and phone calls since the original proposal was presented in December. He held several meetings with district educators looking for a compromise.
“We’ve moved that original August 16 start to August 20,” he said. “We have teachers coming back a day early in January so we can retain a full two weeks for families at winter break before starting second semester January 7. We have added a long weekend break in the middle of March so that students have more time off in the middle of second semester. I am confident this is the best schedule we can have that is educationally sound and also addresses some of the parent concerns we’ve heard.”
The new calendar can be found on the district website at bayvillageschools.com.
School board President Steve Lee noted that the following year’s calendar (2019-20) would be presented at the Monday, Feb. 5, Bay Village Board of Education meeting (taking place as WBVO went to press). Approval of that calendar is expected in March so that families have the schedule more than a year in advance. The proposed 2019-20 calendar is posted on the district website.
What is considered in adopting an annual calendar?
• Instructional focus – uninterrupted “chunks” of learning time.
• State-established testing windows and graduation requirements.
• Number of state-required school days/hours (455 half-day Kindergarten; 910 hours grades 1-6 and full-day Kindergarten; 1,001 hours grades 7-12). May include two days for parent/teacher conferences and two days for teacher professional development. Five-day weeks remain the expectation.
• Optimizing length of school day for learning (we already have some of the longest school days of area districts).
• Accommodation for after-school activities and athletics.
• Optimized timing for teacher training and professional development.
• Optimized timing for teacher professional requirements (classroom set up parent-teacher conferences, end-of-term grading, etc.).
• Comply with all employee contract dates.
• Anticipate at least 2-3 weather-related cancellations.
• Recognition of major holidays, avoiding days that would trigger high absenteeism.
• Required transportation for non-public school students.
• Faculty preferences within required criteria above.
• Family preferences within required criteria above.
Director of Communications for the Bay Village City School District