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Calendar changes to be discussed at VISD board meeting

By Carolina Astrain
Jan. 14, 2014 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 14, 2014 at 7:15 p.m.


IF YOU GO

• WHAT: Victoria school district regular monthly board meeting

• WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday

• WHERE: 102 Profit Drive

IF YOU FILE

Two Victoria school district board of trustees seats are up for grabs in the May 10 election. The first day to file is Jan. 29. The seats up for election are Districts 5 and 3 - currently served by board President Tami Keeling and L.J. "Lou" Svetlik, respectively.

The fall semester for the Victoria school district may end earlier next school year.

Proposed changes to the Victoria school district calendar would shift the end of the first semester from mid-January to before winter break in December, said Diane Boyett, VISD communications director.

This school year, the first semester ends Friday.

The Victoria school district board is slated to discuss the district calendar as well as new dual-credit course offerings at its regular monthly board meeting Thursday evening.

Under the proposed calendar, the school year would start Aug. 25 and end June 4, 2015, with a two-week winter break and one-week break for Thanksgiving and another for spring break, Boyett said.

During the 2012-13 school year, the winter break was shorter than two weeks, causing families inconveniences in travel, Boyett said.

Victoria West High School parent Leisha Dioguardi said her family had to cut their vacation to Australia - where her husband is from - short because of the abbreviated break during the 2012-13 school year.

"We took a trip there that was really quick," said Dioguardi, who has two students in high school. "From my perspective, I like having a longer break; it makes planning easier."

The winter break for this school year was a full two weeks.

Ending the school year after May will also make reaching out to students who need to retake their state standardized exams during the summer easier, Boyett said.

"The STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) test results don't come back until the end of May," Boyett said. "Having that extra time at the end of the school year helps us immensely."

Prior to adoption of the calendar, trustees will consider approving a state waiver requesting that five days from the instructional calendar be reserved for professional development time.

If granted, the Victoria school district would have 175 instructional days, and teachers would work 187 contract days.

The average length of the American school year is 180 days, according to the National Center on Time and Learning.

"We've been asking for this same waiver the last couple of years," Boyett said. "This way, teachers will be able to gain some insight through the school year and put their new strategies to work immediately in the classroom."

In other business, trustees are expected to learn about new high school course offerings through the district's dual-credit partnership with Victoria College.

"We're going to be able to expand our dual-credit course offerings this year; we couldn't do that without Victoria College," Boyett said. "We're very fortunate to have a community college here that wants to work with the high schools."

New courses in various subject areas will be available during the next school year, Boyett said.

The district also expects to include firefighter training through its partnership with the college, Boyett said.

"They'll be able to transfer over their credits to the college and complete the rest of their certification at Victoria College," Boyett said.

At Thursday's meeting, the college will be presented with the district's "You Make A Difference Award" for its support of the school district.

"They put their staff members on our campuses to help students fill out their college applications and financial aid packets," Boyett said.

Because January is School Board Recognition Month, trustees also will be recognized Thursday.

Over the past 12 months, Victoria school board members have logged more than 242 training hours total, not including time spent at board meetings and school events, Boyett said.

"They don't get paid to do this," Boyett said. "Their compensation is knowing they are making a difference."

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