For Immediate Release
April 13, 2023 – Snyder ISD Board of Trustees voted on a new calendar for the 2023-2024 school year. Prompted by staff and parent inquiries, the District began exploring calendar options earlier this year, including a 4-day school week. Over 60 districts, mostly in rural Texas, have moved to a 4-day or hybrid school week to recruit and retain teachers.
“One of my primary goals is to surround our students with quality, caring staff committed to education,” said Superintendent of Schools Mr. Bob Rauch. “State-wide, school districts are facing financial challenges, including here in Snyder, and must find creative solutions to incentivize teachers and other school staff.” Mr. Rauch, a teacher himself before becoming a principal, then superintendent, mentioned that teachers work well beyond the hours students spend in school. Finding work-life balance and making education desirable is critical to retaining and recruiting the best.
After consulting with the DEIC (District Executive Improvement Committee) and the Board of Trustees in January of this year, the district distributed a survey to determine if there was an interest in exploring alternative calendar options. Based on the survey results, the District continued the discussion with department leadership; consulted with area daycares, community groups, and churches; hosted a Community Town Hall Q&A session with the Board of Trustees; and sent a second survey to parents, staff, students, and community members. Final adjustments were made based on survey results, and two options were presented to the DEIC on Tuesday before Mr. Rauch presented the proposed calendar to the Board of Trustees at the April 13th meeting.
The District researched calendars from other school districts and found various options ranging from a 100% four-day school week to a hybrid calendar. “We have spent countless hours researching options,” said Rauch. “Although we have made progress, we still have work to do academically. Moving to a 100% 4-day calendar is not a leap I’m comfortable taking today. However, I believe we have found a reasonable compromise in a hybrid calendar accommodating many of our staff and parent requests without compromising quality instruction time.”
“While evaluating options, one of the things we looked at was attendance trends. We found 1) attendance was lower on Fridays than other days of the week and 2) attendance during our eight half days during the year was even lower, with anywhere from 200-500 students absent,” Rauch said. “Absences are also higher among staff on Fridays, either for personal reasons or due to traveling for extracurricular school-sponsored activities. How effective is instruction with so many teachers and students absent? Fridays are also the most challenging day to recruit substitutes.”
The 2023-2024 calendar considers days with higher absenteeism rates to make the instruction time more meaningful. Students will receive 166 days of instruction which equals 79,680 minutes; this exceeds the state minimum requirement of 75,600 minutes by approximately eight and a half days. Compared to the traditional calendar option, the hybrid option provides students nine additional days off and teachers with 12 extra days off. Rauch recognized that the calendar is not the only solution to a nationwide problem. “A hybrid calendar alone will not fix the recruitment and retention problem, but it is a step forward. We will continue to seek ways to retain our great teaching staff and recruit the best.”
“We want to make Snyder ISD the best place to work and attend school,” said Snyder ISD Board President Brad Hinton. “One thing we can all agree on is that our teachers are shaping future generations. To provide the best for students and staff, we must move past our differences and work together for the children in this community.”
Snyder ISD will continue to meet with local organizations to communicate opportunities for students on the additional days off. Extracurricular activities and events will continue as usual, with minor adjustments to off-season practices when school is not in session.
A possible caveat to this plan looms in the current state legislative session, which District leadership is closely monitoring. Many topics important to public education are being debated, including requiring a minimum of 175 days in addition to the 75,600 minutes. “If this passes, it will be a setback. School districts are trying their best to make decisions for their community.” Rauch continued, “However if legislation changes, we have a backup plan. Regardless of what happens, we plan to have school next year and give our students our absolute best. They deserve it.”
The newly adopted calendar has the 2023-24 school year for Snyder ISD set to begin on August 9th and end on May 24th.
For more information, visit www.snyderisd.net/calendar