Hawaii Board of Education set to vote on new school calendar - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii Board of Education set to vote on new school calendar

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

For the first time, the Hawaii Department of Education is recommending a multi-year school calendar covering the next three school years to allow for better planning by schools and families. After a sizzling summer, some parents and lawmakers urged the state to consider starting the school year after Labor Day, but the proposal released by the DOE at a meeting on Tuesday won't help students beat the heat. Officials spent months collecting input from various stakeholders.

"There's a lot of opinions about the calendar and everyone can't be satisfied with a certain calendar, but we had to weigh different interests and make tradeoffs," said Tammi Chun, the DOE's assistant superintendent for strategy, innovation and performance.

The dates vary slightly each year, but students would begin classes the week of August 1 and end within the week of Memorial Day. Winter break would be 17 days.

The proposal is similar to the current calendar, but DOE officials said the changes help to maximize five-day weeks as much as possible to reduce absences and promote more learning.

"It's better to have a five-day week of school than to have this choppiness where we have a Wednesday off or a Monday off. We end up with attendance problems on those weeks and we really want to maximize the extent to which our students are in school," explained Stephen Schatz, the DOE's deputy superintendent.

Some of the public feedback favored starting school after Labor Day, but Schatz said switching the calendar isn't a good strategy to deal with hot classrooms.

"September has been our hottest month in some years. It's very humid and then it ends up pushing the calendar into June, which is another hot month," he said.

Workers have now installed more than 400 portable air conditioning units and another 100 have been ordered, according to the DOE. The state is also allowing the department to use $20 million of its repair and maintenance budget to deal with heat concerns.

"Both through air conditioning, but also through some other methodologies, like cooling our roofs and looking at exhaust fans and such," said Schatz.

After discussing the proposed school calendar and adding an amendment, the Board of Education's Student Achievement Committee approved the dates for 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. Committee members decided to hold off on the 2018-2019 recommendation until next month. The full Board of Education will vote on the proposal for the next two years on October 20.

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