As we turn the page on the 2019 calendar, it is time for us at St. James R-I School District to begin preparing for our academic calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. The state legislators voted this past session to require the school start date to be no earlier than 14 days prior to the first Monday in September. This means our earliest start date for the 2020-21 school year cannot be earlier than Monday, August 24, 2020.
The annual setting of the school calendar has to factor in many considerations. Some of the items to ponder are: the schedules of our area colleges/universities and Rolla Technical Institute (we have students in dual enrollment classes, technical training courses, etc.), the Grape and Fall Festival, the number of days needed for teachers to be able to train and collaborate, the impact our calendar has on student meals and parent work schedules, and how long breaks should be around holidays. In addition to these local factors, districts are required to attend at least 1044 hours per school year. We have no problem reaching those hours. This year we are scheduled to attend 173 days of school and log over 1080 hours. Building extra hours into the school calendar helps us avoid being required to make up every day missed due to inclement weather.
We have a calendar committee comprised of eleven people from across the community. Members include one school administrator, one school board member, four parents, three teachers, one Copeland Bus representative, and one community/business leader. Staff members from across the district provided input to the calendar committee through surveys and open dialogue. Survey results from the staff and community were shared and considered. The committee members discussed all known factors and deliberated about how the calendar should meet the goals of the district. They eventually voted on a calendar to present to the school board at the December 19, 2019, board of education meeting. I appreciate each of these individuals for their willingness to serve on this time-consuming committee.
The Board of Education is scheduled to approve the 2020-21 academic calendar at the January 16 meeting. We are hopeful this early approval will give families enough time to start making plans prior to and during the 2020-2021 school year. In addition, the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) should also have their calendars set, so we can establish our “dead” weeks for summer activities. It will be time to start scheduling those summer excursions before long. If you ever have questions about our present and future calendars, please reach out. Our number one purpose for the school calendar is to match our goals for providing students the best education we can; however, we also try to consider how it impacts families and working parents.
As we begin the year 2020, it makes us think more about the passing of time. In a recent conversation, someone mentioned to me that during the year 2020 we are the same distance away from 2050 as we are from 1990. For those of us old enough to remember 1990, I’ll let you ponder that for awhile. Here is wishing you all a wonderful 2020 regardless of how young you may be!