District 833 families penciling in end-of-summer plans should take a look at the district's revised 2017-18 calendar.
South Washington County Schools is bumping up the start of school by two days for grades 1-5 in order to complete the bulk of one-on-one literacy assessments prior to the first day of class. The school year will start Sept. 5 for grades 1-12, and the year will end two days earlier for elementary students.
Also, the district is setting aside two days in late August when teachers will schedule individual assessments with incoming elementary school students.
The calendar change was approved by the District 833 School Board May 25 at the request of administrators who see value in conducting assessments before the school year gets underway. The teachers union agreed to the change.
In the past, the district used substitute teachers in the classroom at the beginning of the year so that teachers could conduct individual assessments with their students. That took the teacher out of the class just as the year was starting.
"It's not the same as the classroom teacher moving the class forward at the beginning," Superintendent Keith Jacobus said of the heavier reliance on substitute teachers in early September. Also, Jacobus said during a school board discussion earlier this month, it takes longer to complete assessments with that schedule.
Conducting assessments in late August will allow teachers to spend more time with their new students as the school year begins, administrators said.
Assessments that cannot be completed on Aug. 22 or 23, due to scheduling conflicts, will be set up the first week or two of school.
The change also means the school year will end two days earlier than planned for Pre-K through grade 5. Their last day will be June 4, 2018 — a Monday. Grades 6-11 will finish the year on June 6.
Brian Boothe, professional development and accountability director, said it's not ideal to end on a Monday, but it was a challenge to make another change during the year to avoid a Monday finish.
Board members had mixed views on finishing the school year on a Monday, but ultimately supported the change.
"At the end of the day we're in this business to teach kids," board member Ron Kath said.
Key dates for 2017-18 school year
Aug. 22-23 — Individually scheduled literacy assessments for elementary school students
Sept. 5: First day of school for grades 1-12
Sept. 7: First day of school for kindergarten
Sept. 11: First day of school for pre-kindergarten
Oct. 19-20: No school for MEA break
Dec. 21-Jan. 2: Winter break
March 26-30: Spring break and holiday
June 1: Last day of school for grade 12
June 4: Last day of school PreK-grade 5
June 6: Last day of School grades 6-11