Developing VBCPS calendar is a lengthy and thoughtful process that takes months to finalize. The coordination and development of the calendar falls under the responsibility of the school division’s Department of School Administration. During the development process, input is requested from staff and parents prior to approval by the School Board.
Q. When developing a school calendar is there a minimum number of teaching days that local school divisions are required to offer its students?
Yes. In accordance with state law, Section 22.1-98 of the Code of Virginia, the length of every schools’ calendar, in all school divisions, shall be at least 180 teaching days or 990 teaching hours in any school year.
Q. If the state requires a minimum number of 180 instructional days, why does VBCPS have a 183-day calendar?
VBCPS values increased instructional time. During its April 17, 2001 meeting, the School Board adopted a 183-day calendar. Increasing the calendar by three days was intended to improve opportunities for students. Since the 2001-2002 school year, the School Board has adopted subsequent school calendars with 183 instructional days.
Q. Since state law requires only 180 instructional days are the extra three days used for make-up days due to inclement weather?
No. The three additional days above the minimum 180 days in the school calendar are not intended to be used as make-up days due to inclement weather. Again, VBCPS values increased instructional time and is committed to a calendar that goes beyond the minimum, therefore, there will be a corresponding commitment to make up days missed.
Q. Instead of considering holidays and Spring Break days as make-up dates for inclement weather, why not extend the school year?
The need to reserve high school graduation ceremony dates at the Virginia Beach Conference Center far in advance prevents this suggestion as an option. High school graduation dates must be scheduled at the Virginia Beach Conference Center five years in advance. It is difficult, if not impossible, to reschedule graduation during one of the center’s busiest seasons. (High school auditoriums are not used because of space limitations.)
Q. Since the school division is unable to extend the school year due to high school graduation ceremonies at the end of the school year, is there a possibility of starting school prior to Labor Day, thus allowing more flexibility to the school calendar?
In accordance with state law (Section 22.1 79.1 of the Code of Virginia) public schools are prohibited from starting school prior to Labor Day. The Virginia Board of Education only makes exceptions to this in cases where a school division has been closed an average of eight days per year during any five of the last 10 years because of severe weather conditions, energy shortages, power failures, or other emergency.
Q. What is the timeline for the development of a school calendar?
The process for developing and finalizing the school calendar is a collaborative effort that takes approximately 6 months from start to finish. School calendars are typically developed two years in advance for planning purposes for staff, students, and parents. From January through May the steps involved in this process include: 1) Review calendar to identify holidays that will impact the school year calendar; 2) Verify new legislation in the General Assembly that may impact the school calendar; 3) Develop calendar committee to provide input on draft calendar; and 4) present calendar recommended by Calendar Committee to Superintendent and subsequently, to the School Board for review and adoption.
Q. Who serves on the Calendar Committee?
The Calendar Committee is comprised of parents, teachers, school administrators and several central office administrators, with classroom teachers having the largest representation on the committee.
Q. The length of days for the Winter Holidays varies from year to year. What is the reason for this?
When Labor Day occurs later in the month, there are fewer days between Labor Day and high school graduation ceremony dates. Because of this, the Winter Holiday is typically shorter. However, when Labor Day falls on the first few days of September, it is possible that the Winter Holiday could be longer. Not only does this impact the Winter Holiday, but when Labor Day falls earlier in the month, more options are available when developing the school calendar.
Q. If a single-day holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, will schools be closed on a subsequent weekday as a holiday for students and staff?
Not necessarily. This will vary from year to year based on the observed date of a particular holiday and the flexibility of the school year calendar based on how early the first day of school falls in the month of September.