Wichita schools will go back to shorter school days and a longer school year, after district leaders approved a new calendar Monday.
The 2018-19 calendar, approved unanimously by school board members, features 173 school days – 15 more than the previous two years.
The first day of school for Wichita students will be Aug. 15.
Board member Ernestine Krehbiel asked whether a return to shorter school days would affect recess time for elementary students.
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“I had a parent come to me concerned that recess may be taken out because of shorter days,” Krehbiel said.
Superintendent Alicia Thompson said recess time – including a second break added in 2016 after parents lobbied for the change – is not expected to be cut.
“The recommendations and procedures we developed were developed (based) on best practices for students, not because of a calendar,” Thompson said. “So those … will continue to be in place.”
The Wichita district altered its academic calendar two years ago as part of a $3 million budget cut, trimming 15 days from the year and adding 30 minutes to each school day.
Many families said the transition was more challenging than expected, particularly for young children. In an online survey conducted by the district, three-fourths of students responding to the survey agreed with the statement that “staying awake at the end of the day is a concern.”
The calendar approved Monday has the same number of in-service days, nonteaching duty days and conference release days as previous calendars.
Most children will start classes on Aug. 15. Sixth- and ninth-graders will attend orientation on Aug. 14.
Winter break for students will be Dec. 19-Jan. 2. Teachers will have a nonteaching duty day Dec. 19 and an in-service day Jan. 2.
The last day of school will be May 23, 2019.
Returning to the shorter-day, longer-year calendar eliminated a week-long fall break around Thanksgiving. Under the calendar approved Monday, Wichita students would be off Nov. 21-23.
Under the new calendar, Northeast Magnet High School and several magnet middle schools will go back to 7 a.m. start times and will release students at 2:10 p.m.
Most secondary and K-8 schools will go from 8 a.m. to 3:10 p.m., and most elementary schools will go from 9 a.m. to 4:10 p.m.
Board vice president Sheril Logan, who served on the district’s calendar committee, said she and other members were satisfied with the proposed change.
“We came to the final conclusion that this is a calendar that everybody could buy into,” Logan said.