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OPS seeks feedback on proposed calendar changes for next two school years

OPS seeks feedback on proposed calendar changes for next two school years

Since March of 2020 there have been three COVID-19 relief bills passed by Congress and signed into law. Thanks to those bills, OPS will be receiving $303.7 million.

Omaha Public Schools officials are seeking feedback from families and staff on proposed changes to the academic calendars for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years.

The district sent surveys this week to the emails of OPS parents, students and staff to submit their opinions of the calendars.

Key changes are proposed for the first week of school and parent-teacher conferences.

Scott SchmidtBonne, director of research at OPS, said at Monday night’s school board meeting that the first week of school would return to a pre-pandemic start during the second full week of August. The first week of school was the third week of August this year.

This will allow for a two-week winter break, a one-week spring break and a one-week break for Thanksgiving.

While students would still have a staggered start, elementary and early childhood students with special education needs would be invited to start one day earlier than everyone else, which would be a Tuesday. All students would have the first Monday of the school year off. The remaining students would start on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on their grade level.

Changes also are proposed to the calendar for parent-teacher conferences and to what are called “single-level release days,” when just one level of students — elementary, middle or high school — is not in session.

After reviewing student data, OPS officials found that attendance suffers for students who are scheduled to be in session when another level of students is out of school.

This especially occurs in families who have children across multiple senior high, middle school and elementary buildings.

SchmidtBonne said students in these households have missed an additional 2,860 days over the past two school years on single-level release days versus students who live in households that have only one level.

The district is proposing that the next two academic calendars have no more days where only one group is out of session.

SchmidtBonne said conferences would also be moved to one week in the fall and one week in the spring for all students. Students would be off the entire week for both the fall and spring conferences.

Currently, parent-teacher conferences are scheduled over a span of three weeks in the fall and spring semesters, with each week dedicated to a different level of students.

Conference week will consist of two days of meetings with parents, with evening appointments available on one of those days. SchmidtBonne said two days that week will be dedicated to professional development, with all staff off on Friday.

Conference days also are scheduled so teachers can attend their own child’s conference because evening sessions for each level will be offered on different days, SchmidtBonne said.

Teacher work days and articulation days that were established for the 2021-22 school year will stay the same. An articulation day is a day for teachers to work with teachers in the grade level above them to ensure students transition smoothly between grades for the upcoming school year.

Parents, employees and students in fourth grade and above each received surveys to fill out. The surveys will close on Nov. 30, and the feedback will be presented to the board as it considers and votes on the changes.

“This is a really big change. … I’m not sure how teachers will feel about it, I don’t know yet how I feel about it — because I am this parent, I have a kid in every level,” board member Tracy Casady said at Monday’s meeting. “I’m actually kind of excited to see how people will respond to this.”

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