Omaha Public Schools officials are seeking feedback from parents and teachers on proposed changes to the 2021-22 academic calendar.
The district is hoping to gather comments on the start and end of the school year, the timing and duration of breaks and the timing of conferences.
After collecting the information, district officials will present the final proposed changes to the school board on April 19. The district has created a survey for the feedback that can be found at tinyurl.com/OPS2021Calendar.
The district’s proposed calendar for next school year includes a staggered start. Elementary school students would start Aug. 16, entry-level students at middle and high schools would start Aug. 17 and the remaining secondary students would start Aug. 18.
School would end for students May 27.
Scott SchmidtBonne, director of research at OPS, said the goal of the staggered start is to reduce the strain on key services such as transportation to ensure those services meet families’ expectations.
Longer periods of uninterrupted teaching and learning are included in the proposed calendar, with teacher professional learning days moved from September to October.
At this week’s school board meeting, board Vice President Jane Erdenberger and board member Spencer Head asked about the timing of the district’s spring break. OPS typically has spring break earlier than other metro districts.
This year, OPS had spring break from March 8 to 12. Millard Public Schools is on spring break this week, April 5 to 9.
SchmidtBonne said the district has to schedule spring break around a number of second-semester tests and assessments, but changes to the testing schedule could provide more flexibility around spring break dates if desired.
In the past, SchmidtBonne said, some parents and teachers have liked not having spring break at the same time as other districts because activities and locations in the city are less crowded with only one district out of school.
The proposed calendar also would allow students to do credit recovery during breaks from school. Several school districts in the metro area offered credit recovery opportunities during spring break this year.
Robert Miller, president of the Omaha Education Association, told the school board he was able to meet with OPS officials and share thoughts about the proposed calendar. The Omaha Education Association represents OPS teachers and staff.
Miller said the OEA continues to be concerned about the school year ending on June 1 for teachers instead of before Memorial Day. OEA also would like to see spring break moved from the week of March 7 to the week of March 21 because of the length of time without breaks for students and staff, Miller said.
Staff also are opposed to working during breaks, he said. While working typically is optional for staff, it won’t be optional when students sign up for credit recovery sessions and principals need to staff the sessions.
District officials emailed the survey to parents and staff and may follow up with texts if needed.