The BOE just voted on the school calendars for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.
District Calendar 2019–2020 (recently approved)
- Aug 23: Prep Day for Teachers
- Aug 26-27: PD Day for Teachers
- Aug 28: Building Day for Teachers/PD Paras
- Aug 29: First Day for Students K- Grade 9
- Aug 30: First Day for Students Grades 10-12
District Calendar 2020–2021 (recently approved)
The discussion that preceded that vote explored the reasoning behind many of the details inherent in that decision process. Key takeaways:
- A regional calendar is no longer required. Several years ago the state began requiring schools to sync regional calendars. This has now been reversed. Now RPS can plan up to three years in advance and think locally.
- There are 180 school days required for each academic year. In order to comply with the State Education Statute, every public school district must hold school for a minimum of 180 school days each year. In Ridgefield, the 10-12th graders start one day later than the rest of the students, so the calendar has 181 days overall for K-9 students to allow the high school freshman this important orientation day.
- Scheduling of make-up storm days is regulated by the state. Districts are expected to add school days when necessary up to June 30th to make up lost school days due to unexpected closures and use acceptable “holidays” as school days. Districts are not allowed to make up school days on weekends, with additional hours tacked onto existing school days, or extend the school year into July.
- Some holidays are required due to collective bargaining agreements. The district works with numerous unions; collective bargaining agreements outline observed holidays beyond national holidays such as Columbus Day, Veterans Day, and Good Friday.
- When possible, our Spring Recess will include the Good Friday holiday. As we continue with the April breaks, the timing of the Good Friday holiday will often be the deciding factor as to which week our spring break will be. By capturing that holiday during our break, we can make our last day of school one day sooner.
- The benefit of starting school before Labor Day is an earlier end-date. Some years, if it is early enough, RPS could start after Labor Day. After a year like 2017-18 with 14 make-up days, we are clearly reminded that the later the start, the later the finish. Other concerns include appropriate advocacy for groups like our fall athletes who need practice time prior to the start of competition and our advanced placement (AP) students who have a big undertaking to have all the College Board requirements completed by the national test day in May. As advocates for students, these are just some of the considerations addressed by the district and BOE.
- Finding just the right start time is key. Starting too early presents challenges too. Building repairs and capital projects are primarily completed in the summer. If school ends late (like this year) and starts earlier in August, the district may not be able to complete this important work. Also, in order to prepare for the opening of school, RPS administrators work collaboratively during these months to prepare for all incoming students and faculty. This includes the hiring of new personnel to replace retirees and meet classroom size guidelines. Finally, the calendar must allow time for new teacher orientation, faculty training, and classroom preparation.
- The importance of job-embedded professional learning throughout the year is understood. Every school district in CT is mandated to provide a certain number of professional learning hours for faculty each year. Ridgefield Public Schools is proud of the rich and robust job-embedded professional learning offered to district faculty. Utilizing the district Thursday collaborative hour and Early Release calendar, faculty meet each week before or after school and on release days to work on key instructional priorities. By investing in the continuous development of faculty, our district continues to be a leader and model in the state. Use this link to learn more about the research on best practices in professional development for educators.
Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, the BOE approved a series of school days termed “flex days” intended for use as half-days for students and professional development for faculty and staff. The BOE anticipates clarifying the structure of those days in January 2019 for the following fall, after reviewing district reports on the current model. This does not affect our 2018-19 schedule.