Frequently Asked Questions about the District Calendar
From legislative requirements to how the school calendar affects Plano families, much consideration is given to formulating the district's academic calendar, and this process begins months before the final calendar is approved by the Board of Trustees. The following is a list of frequently asked questions regarding this process. For specific questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why does Plano ISD have a mid-August start date?
Plano ISD sought an exemption for the school start date via its Local Innovation Plan in order to provide true continuous learning and maximize student performance. Plano ISD has historically operated with the first semester of classes ending before Winter Break so that time in January is not lost in reviewing for exams when students return. Having to wait to start classes until the fourth Monday in August forced the district’s semesters to be significantly unequal in length, with the second semester being approximately four weeks longer than the first semester. Flexibility to begin instruction earlier in August will enable the district to improve active learning by balancing the amount of instructional time in the semesters, allowing teachers the opportunity to better pace and deliver instruction before and after the Winter Break.
Additionally, by having the flexibility to start and end the school year earlier, students will be able to enroll in college courses or college camps that start early in June. The district also believes this flexibility in starting the school year earlier will benefit students in the area of social emotional learning who are transitioning from elementary to middle, middle to high and high to senior high by giving those students additional time and support to enable them to adjust socially and emotionally to their new schools.
Why does the district now have more flexibility related to the start date?
The 84th Texas State Legislature (2015) passed the District of Innovation concept into law through House Bill 1842, which was codified in Texas Education Code Chapter 12A. The designation allows school districts access to most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open-enrollment charter schools. An exemption to the school start date was approved as a result of Plano ISD’s Local Innovation Plan.
What is a District of Innovation?
The District of Innovation concept was passed into law by the 84th Legislative Session in House Bill 1842, which created Texas Education Code chapter 12A. The law allows traditional independent school districts to access most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open enrollment charter schools. To access these flexibilities, a school district must adopt an innovation plan, as set forth in Chapter 12A.
On May 3, 2016, the Plano Independent School District’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution to initiate the process of designation as a District of Innovation in order to increase local control over district operations and to support innovation and local initiatives to improve educational outcomes for the benefit of students and the community. On July 21, 2016, the board appointed a thirteen member Local Innovation Committee comprised of district leaders representing a variety of roles and responsibilities to develop the Local Innovation Plan, which was presented to the board and approved on November 15, 2016.
The term of the plan is for five years, beginning January 1, 2017 and ending January 1, 2022, unless terminated or amended earlier by the Board of Trustees in accordance with the law. The committee will monitor the effectiveness of the plan and recommend to the board suggested modifications. The board and district administration have followed the guidelines of the TEA. Components of the plan are listed below. Download and view the entire plan.
- Minimum minutes of instruction
- Minimum attendance for class credit
- First day of Instruction
- Teacher certification for Career and Technical Education instructors
- Teacher appraisals
What is the process that the school board will use to determine the calendar?
The administration provided calendar options to the Board of Trustees on November 6. Community input will be gathered and shared with the board. All feedback will be considered by the board, with a potential adoption of the 2019-20 calendar at the December school board meeting.
How many days must children attend school?
Because of a change in state law, the Texas Education Code now defines the school year in minutes rather than days. The requirement has been changed from 180 days to at least 75,600 minutes of instruction, with one day defined as 420 minutes. Both calendar options for the 2019-20 academic year have 177 instructional days.
What is the history of school start dates in Plano ISD?
The following is a list of school start dates from 1977 through 2018:
- 1977 — August 22, Monday 4th week
- 1978 — August 22, Tuesday 4th week
- 1979 — August 21, Tuesday
- 1980 — August 25, Monday
- 1981 — August 24, Monday
- 1982 — August 23, Monday
- 1983 — August 22, Monday
- 1984 — August 22, Wednesday
- 1985 — September 3, Tuesday – school start after Labor Day (Labor Day was September 2)
- 1986 — September 2, Tuesday – school start after Labor Day (Labor Day was September 1)
- 1987 — September 1, Tuesday – school start prior to Labor Day (Labor Day was September 7)
- 1988 — September 1, Thursday – school start prior to Labor Day (Labor Day was September 5)
- 1989 — August 28, Monday
- 1990 — August 27, Monday
- 1991 — August 20, Tuesday (State legislation requires 180 days of school, previously 175 days)
- 1992 — August 10, Monday (first time exams prior to winter break)
- 1993 — August 9, Monday
- 1994 — August 8, Monday (first fall break)
- 1995 — August 7, Monday
- 1996 — August 5, Monday
- 1997 — August 5, Tuesday
- 1998 — August 3, Monday
- 1999 — August 2, Monday
- 2000 — August 3, Thursday
- 2001 — August 2, Thursday
- 2002 — August 12, Monday
- 2003 — August 11, Monday
- 2004 — August 4, Wednesday
- 2005 — August 8, Monday
- 2006 — August 9, Wednesday
- 2007 — August 27, Monday (State legislation / state regulation of school start date) (October fall break discontinued due to State law / start date cannot be prior to the fourth Monday of August)
- 2008 — August 25, Monday
- 2009 — August 24, Monday
- 2010 — August 23, Monday
- 2011 — August 22, Monday
- 2012 — August 27, Monday
- 2013 — August 26, Monday
- 2014 — August 25, Monday - (full week Thanksgiving break)
- 2015 — August 24, Monday - (full week Thanksgiving break)
- 2016 — August 22, Monday - (full week Thanksgiving break)
- 2017 — August 21, Monday - (full week Thanksgiving break) (first school year affected by Local Innovation Plan approved by the board, November 2016)
- 2018 — August 13, Monday - (full week Thanksgiving break)
- 1977 — August 22, Monday 4th week
When has the district begun school after Labor Day?
From 1977 – 2017 the school year began after Labor Day two times (1985 and 1986). See the FAQ question regarding the history of start dates for a complete list of dates from the past 41 years.
Do the calendars of surrounding districts affect Plano ISD?
The district is aware that common holidays and school start dates are an important consideration especially for staff members or blended families who have children attending schools in nearby districts.
How do energy costs affect the school calendar?
The cost of electricity is a definite consideration. August is a hot month and whether school begins in early August or ends in mid-June, schools need to be cooled. The district's average utility cost per day is $9,000 more in August than in May. Shifting five days from May to August would cost about $45,000.
This cost would then be offset somewhat by starting and ending summer school earlier. The later school ends, the later summer school will run - adding to the cost of air conditioning the buildings that participate. Across the district approximately 8,500 students (more than some school districts in Texas) participate in summer programs at around 25% of Plano ISD campuses.