Skip to content
Quick Start for:

A. Public Participation Subcommittee Report


Questions to be answered by the subcommittee:

  • How do parents, teachers, and community members currently feel about the earlier start dates?
  • How should the issue of school start dates be prioritized among other critical education issues, i.e., teacher salaries, student dropout issues, college readiness and student performance, school employee health insurance, school funding and/or tax restructuring?


Findings of the subcommittee:

Below is a summary of the survey findings regarding public participation.

32. How long would districts need, in your opinion, to phase-in a standard start date and adjust calendars?

The general public and school personnel indicate that changes in start date and adjustment of calendars could be implemented for the 2005-06 school year.

33. If a later school start date were imposed, when should the school year end?

Overwhelmingly, all respondents indicated that if a later school start date were imposed, the end of May should be the end of the school year.

34. What, in your opinion, are the reasons driving the start date in your school district?

Giving teachers training and/or work days during the school year
The majority of respondents were neutral in opinion or made no response, then fairly evenly split between most and least important. The only exception was school administrators who rank it most important in driving the school start date. Through other input, many school administrators stressed the importance of frequent school holidays for staff morale. However, this benefit to morale creates the situation that eliminates the high attendance day. (In a five-day week Monday and Friday are low attendance days and Wednesday is the high attendance day. In a four-day week, the first and fourth days remain low attendance days, but the high attendance day is lost.)

Observing a full week off for Thanksgiving
The majority respondents said this was of least importance in driving the school start date or made no response.

Needing extra days for TAKS preparation
The majority respondents were neutral in opinion or made no response, although "most important" was almost equal to "neutral" in opinion in driving the school start date. Through other input, both parents and teachers indicated they think enough, in fact many believe too much, time is spent on TAKS preparation.

Observing a full week off for Spring break
The majority respondents said this was of most importance in driving the school start date or made no response.

Having final exams before Winter break
Overwhelmingly, all respondents indicated this was not only "most important," but also the most important reason driving the start date.

Observing a full week off for Fall break
The majority respondents said this was of least importance in driving the school start date or made no response. This result may indicate that most respondents were from districts without a Fall break.

Sports-related issues (UIL practice schedules)
The majority respondents said this was of least importance in driving the school start date or made no response.

Insuring that students receive a full 180 days of instruction
The majority respondents said this was of most importance in driving the school start date or made no response.

Ending the school year earlier in May
The majority respondents made no response. Other responses were divided within a few percentage points between all the other categories.

Observing a longer Winter break
The majority respondents made no response. Other responses were divided within a few percentage points between all the other categories.

35. It is academically critical for the fall semester to end before the Winter Break.

Overwhelmingly, respondents "agreed" or "strongly agreed".

36. Local communities should have flexibility to set local holidays for such things as stock shows, county fairs and the like.

Overwhelmingly, respondents "agreed" or "strongly agreed".


Observations from the survey, Public Forum, and additional input:

Many people may have misunderstood question 34. They may have expressed their opinion of the importance of these issues instead of ranking these issues as they affect the start of school. This is supported by comments in the "Other" section.

All categories of survey respondents support local control. There was a strong administrative desire to pursue local control above all other considerations from all input. The committee felt that local control of the start date can still be maintained through the waiver process. Many respondents were from communities with a military presence and felt the school calendar was set to accommodate holidays observed by military personnel. Again, the committee felt this could be addressed through the waiver process.

There are differences in the opinions of the general public, parents, school personnel, and administrators in particular to the reasons driving the school start date. The general public feels they have no say in start and stop dates for schools. Many school district employees also felt they had no input.

Teachers and parents feel too much time is spent on TAKS. Many teachers and parents indicated that the quality of instruction declines after TAKS. There were concerns expressed that TAKS has become the focus of schools instead of education and that TAKS has become a tool to use against teachers instead of a measure of the students' progress.

There is a concern by teachers to have enough days built into the calendar, whether or not they are "in-service" days, to allow time to analyze data on students, meet and work with other teachers, post grades, etc.

There is a great belief that it is an academic imperative to have exams before the Christmas/Winter break. Many parents expressed concern regarding the stress of worrying about students taking tests after the holidays. Not all members of the Public Participation Subcommittee support a September school start date and believe the final exams are best given before the Christmas/Winter break. If the Task Force recommendation is a September school start date, the final report must include information on the "spacing" concept and data from sources that support giving exams after the Christmas/Winter break.

The General Public feels there are too many random holidays. School employees, teachers, school board members, parents and teachers were 52 percent in favor of no other fall breaks than Thanksgiving.

A later start date would be beneficial not only to the migrant community, but also to Texas farmers.

Other concerns expressed were the availability of facilities for graduation ceremonies, air conditioning costs, and the ability of students to start college in January.