Area students will have one full extra week of vacation in both Feburary and October, thanks to the Humble ISD school board.

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, after months of planning, surveys and cost analysis, the Humble ISD Board of Trustees approved a school calendar for the 2019-20 school year that includes major changes from previous years.

Classes will start one week earlier this August than in 2018. There will be a week of time off for students and teachers in October and February. Classes for the school year will end the last school day in May as it did in 2018. Christmas, Thanksgiving and Spring Break will remain essentially the same as in 2018.

There was intense discussion before the final vote was taken and the vote ended up split, 4-2 with one not present. The board voted to adopt the choice of options that was by far the most popular as indicated by Humble ISD teachers, staff and the community.

In response to questions from several board members during the discussion, Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen reviewed the process used to develop the three final options, all of which meet Texas Educations Agency (TEA) regulatory standards and requirements. She explained that the district received recommendations from many within the community as long as three years ago to start looking at more innovative and improved scheduling opportunities. At the time it was not possible because of TEA regulations, but that all changed when the TEA created district innovation waivers. When approved by the TEA, the waiver could allow for more scheduling flexibility. As a result, the district was able to start its current 2018/19 school year four days earlier last August.

“The community was very supportive of using the district innovation waiver to start sooner in August, so we went ahead and built the calendar that is this year’s, which is similar to Option A. However, we received quite a bit of input and feedback that folks wanted us to explore a completely different calendar with a bit of a ‘year-roundish’ feel that had three extended breaks, including in both October and February, saying that basically the students do better when they have a little time to recharge,” said Fagen.

She then went on to explain the process of developing alternatives and recommendations through extensive surveys of staff, parents and students, along with a thorough analysis of the budgetary implications. Those efforts resulted in three options: A, which is nearly the same as today’s calendar; B, which adds a full week off in October and February; and C, which adds four days off in both October and February. The district then conducted more surveys to determine which was the most preferred in the community. The results showed that staying with the current Option A was preferred by only 20 percent of those surveyed and was the same percentage within both staff and community groups. Option B was preferred by 50 percent of both community and staff groups, and Option C was preferred by approximately 30 percent of both groups. Fagen noted that those statistics indicated a consistent majority of 70 to 80 percent wanted to add more time off in October.

She said, “We felt, based on the feedback of the community and the staff, that we should recommend the calendar that had the strongest interest by both groups. That’s why we put forth the recommendation we did.” She re-emphasized that the recommendation was completely viable from a budget and operational standpoint.

The two trustees who voted against making the change to Option B, Dr. Charles Cunningham and Colin Carney, said they had concerns for potentially adding daycare financial burdens to families with both parents working as a result of the added time off. However, they both expressed their thanks for the thorough and objective analysis that went into the recommendation and committed their support to make it work.

In other business, Dr. Warren Roane, director of accountability for the district, presented an in-depth review of the Humble ISD Annual Performance Report for the 2017-18 School Year. The report included analysis of the demographics of the district, trends in growth within the district, and student- and school campus-performance levels in the district in terms of state-testing performance. Overall the district performed extremely well.

“Under the state accountability system, 40 campuses “Met Standard,” the highest rank allowed. The district was not rated due to the Hurricane Harvey provision. There were 20 distinctions earned by 14 campuses. These were based on STAAR performance in the areas of reading, mathematics, science, social studies, progress measures, closing the gap, and post-secondary readiness,” Roane said.

He noted that for those who want to review specific details of the comprehensive report, it will posted on the internet at humbleisd.net/Page/109297 within two weeks of the presentation to the board of trustees as required by the TEA.

School board meetings are normally held at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the Humble ISD Administration Building, 20200 Eastway Village Drive, and are open to the public. Agendas are posted on the district website: humbleisd.net.

Bruce Olson
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I have been married since 1970 to Kerry, my best friend and a great Australian woman. I served and survived Vietnam in the U.S. Air Force. I fought forest fires in the summer while in college, where I earned a B.A. in economics from Oklahoma State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas. I retired from Continental Airlines. I have a son and two granddaughters in Kingwood, and a daughter and two grandsons on a farm near Mazabuka, Zambia. I am now enjoying life as a grandfather, Tribune correspondent and Humble ISD guest teacher when not traveling to Zambia or Australia.