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Planning for next year; Early release days added to calendar

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, February 23, 2019
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Decatur ISD students will have three more early release dates next school year.

In the 2019-20 school calendar approved by Decatur ISD trustees Wednesday, three additional early release dates were included to give staff more time to train with their professional learning communities. The new early release dates for the staff development are – Sept. 23, Nov. 4 and April 6 – are at the start of new six weeks. All are Monday.

“What’s new is we added three early release dates,” said Decatur ISD Assistant Superintendent Shane Conklin. “We think that that’s extremely important for having an opportunity for our teachers to have a half day at the beginning of the six weeks to plan, prepare and design really effective lessons. As we’ve been going around talking to teachers, one thing that came up was that they would like more time to plan with our teams.”

Conklin pointed out there was not an early release date to start the fourth six weeks because it followed a staff development day.

The school year will start Aug. 14. The school year will end May 20 with graduation set for May 21.

Students will be out the week of Thanksgiving, Nov. 25-29. The winter break is Dec. 23-Jan. 7. Spring break will be March 9-13.

The calendar has an extra day of minutes built in. The state requires schools to provide 75,600 minutes of instruction for the year.

The district is still working to figure out school times for 2019-20. The district had to adjust school times at the high school this year after a flooding incident closed the campus for a week in September. The campus added 15 minutes to the school day for a release time of 3:50.

Decatur ISD Superintendent Judi Whitis said they are currently looking at a release time of 3:45 p.m. at the high school next year.

“That’s tentative,” Whitis said. “We’re still working on schedules.”

In other business, Whitis reported the district is contracting with the Region 10 Service Center to perform a safety and security audit.

“They will be performing comprehensive audits for each of our campuses and facilities,” Whitis said.

The superintendent also reported the district now has a fifth school resource officer that is providing coverage at the elementary schools. In the fall, the district moved the school resource officer who was assigned to all three elementary schools to McCarroll Middle School.

Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins, who is also the school board vice president, in December said the plan will be used for the remainder of the school year with an officer rotating between the elementary schools. Along with off-duty officers filling the contracting role, Hoskins said retired and reserve officers will be picking up SRO shifts. He said it will not be taking officers off the streets during the day.

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