Adoption of DOI calendar leads to earlier start date for next school year

Classes will begin Aug. 16, but end by May 24

Denton ISD students and staff should expect a shorter summer this year due to the recent adoption of the District of Innovation calendar.

The 2017-18 school year will begin Aug. 16 for students and Aug. 8 for staff. However, as part of the DOI calendar, the next school year will end May 24.

The calendar became official when the District of Innovation was adopted in late January by the Denton ISD school board. The road to becoming a DOI was a long one, according to committee member and ASL teacher Shannon Campbell. Superintendent Jamie Wilson talked to every DISD campus at the end of last school year, and a committee was formed over the summer, which included a teacher from each school. The committee has been meeting bi-monthly since August, and submitted its final plan to the school board in December.

While more professional development days are built into next school year, DOI is about more than just the calendar, according to Campbell.

“We are looking at the barriers, how we’re going to approach problem solving and how we can more effectively serve our students and help our faculty and staff be successful,” Campbell said.

Four of the barriers identified by the committee are the school start date, certification related to CTE courses, the 90 percent attendance rule and class size. Campbell said that the current calendar doesn’t match modern-day needs.

“The school schedule was set up when schools first started so that children could be off in the summers and early fall and at certain times during the year so that they could help harvest crops,” Campbell said. “And we still follow the same schedule that they did in ‘Little House on the Prairie’ days.

“I think being innovative and looking at ways to help our students and our teachers be successful now is just something we need to do to catch up with where we are in 2017. Our students use cellphones in class now, and it would be crazy for us to ignore the technology that we have in the public school system the same way it would be crazy for us to ignore the schedule.”

Even though the DOI calendar will not add more days to the school year, some students are unhappy that the upcoming summer break will be slightly shorter.

“Summer is already short,” freshman Jose Moreno said. “If they take away [more days] that will take away from the last month of August, and [we’ll] have only two months of summer.”

But sophomore Mia Thompson thinks getting out of school earlier will help students, including herself, be less stressed.

“I’m fine with it because we get out of school early, and I’m taking all AP [classes] next year, so that can be a big break for me,” Thompson said. “I get to go to SAT classes earlier, I get to have more fun instead of being stressed out.”

Pre-AP geography and Student Council teacher Kim Fritch said that when she began teaching in 1998, school started closer to the beginning of September. She and Campbell noted that while those types of schedules benefit the tourism industry, it’s not necessarily what’s best for students.

“It gives us more flexibility,” Fritch said. “I kind of like that, ending earlier. I think this first summer is going to be challenging because it’s shorter, but once we get through it, it will be better.”

But she isn’t without concerns.

“We have one less day over Christmas break, so if you take that away, that’s a little painful,” Fritch said. “But I think we’ll get used to it.”

Campbell said she understands frustrations about the new calendar, but said that Wilson is focused on doing what’s best for students, staff and faculty to make Denton ISD as successful as possible. Adopting the DOI calendar is one step in that process, she noted.

“Change is hard sometimes,” Campbell said. “But if you will just be positive and look at the good things about it instead of being frustrated with change, then it’s going to go much more smoothly.”

For more information on DOI, click here.