There is no way that everyone will be happy with the RISD calendar. The calendar is like a budget, determining how to spend days rather than dollars. Each family has varied personal preferences related to work, activities, vacations and holidays.

We are confident that the 2006-2007 RISD academic calendar (posted at risd.org) will serve our community well. RISD’s goal in developing a calendar is to create a schedule that optimizes opportunities for academic achievement. We consider community preferences and family considerations, and then balance those with such state requirements as number of school days and accountability testing.

We received wonderful community input during the development of next year’s calendar – each comment and e-mail was important. There were several recurring issues, and I want to take a moment to address those:

Start date – Like most of you, I prefer to start school after Labor Day. The issue, however, is not that simple. That decision not only affects when school starts, it affects the rest of the calendar, including when school ends, the timing of final exams, and whether we have a spring break. In addition, even with a later start date, UIL activities – such as football, volleyball, and band – will still require large numbers of students to spend much of August at school.

Energy costs – Yes, it costs more to operate schools in August than in June. The true increased cost, however, is only $5,000 per day for the district. This is a small amount in a $250 million budget, and is countered by academic considerations during the remainder of the year.

End date – There are benefits to ending the school year before Memorial Day. For example, a number of colleges begin their summer sessions around June 1st and it is important that RISD teachers and graduating high school seniors can enroll for that coursework. In addition, a number of camps, scouting activities and summer jobs begin at the start of summer.

Professional development days – You will notice in the new calendar that professional development days are scheduled at the end of each six-week grading period. There are no classes on those days, but these are critical workdays for RISD staff. Teachers use that time to review assessments and refocus instruction to better serve their students’ needs.

We always welcome your suggestions and comments about the academic calendar or any other issue in RISD.

See you at school.