Education

Boise schools may change school year to start in mid-August and end in May

Second-graders at Roosevelt Elementary organize supplies they brought in for the first day of school in this 2012 photograph. Boise School District is considering a plan to start and end its school year earlier than it does now.
Second-graders at Roosevelt Elementary organize supplies they brought in for the first day of school in this 2012 photograph. Boise School District is considering a plan to start and end its school year earlier than it does now. jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com

The Boise School District is surveying parents on a proposal to move the beginning of school to mid-August and end the school year in May in order to ease testing burdens and improve attendance.

In emails sent to parents districtwide Monday, district officials said the shift would end the first semester by winter break. It also would eliminate having students come back to school for just three and a half days after Memorial Day.

Boise schools now begin in late August and end in early June. The proposed changes, if adopted, could take effect for the 2018-19 school year. Other Idaho schools already have the mid-August start and pre-Memorial Day end.

Changes would mean students take their December winter break with the semester’s end-of-course tests behind them, rather than be off for a couple of weeks and come back after the holidays to face those exams.

“There is a definite loss of learning” during that time, said Stacey Roth, administrator of student programs. Instructors often have to refresh concepts after the winter break for students taking those exams, she said.

Shifting the calendar would allow more days of instruction before Advanced Placement tests and statewide achievement tests.

Revising the schedule would likely reduce the lower attendance that schools see in the lead-up to both winter breaks and the days of school after the Memorial Day weekend, Roth said, as parents keep children out of school for family vacations.

The parent survey will provide the district with more information before it makes a final decision, Roth said. Parents have until May 30 to complete the survey.

Boise district trustees are expected to make a decision on the calendar in October.

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