An increase of 20 minutes to the school day will be added for Hays CISD students next fall after the school board unanimously approved changes to the academic calendar at their Feb. 22 meeting.
The board’s changes reflect House Bill 2610, which was approved by the Texas Legislature that took effect in Sept. 2015. According to the new law, school districts must offer a minimum of 75,600 minutes of instructional time during the school year. Under the previous law, requirements had school districts offer 180 days of instruction per year.
According to Hays CISD public information officer Tim Savoy, the district under the previous law conducted 175 days of instruction with five days for professional development.
Savoy said the district worked to keep its 175-day calendar along with accommodating changes from HB 2610. The district also built in time for weather make-up days and time for three early release days for professional development.
But to do so, the district had to alter start and release times for all schools. The district gathered public input on adjusting start times, but found initial concerns from parents.
Savoy said elementary school parents “clearly” didn’t like a 7:30 a.m. start time, with many wanting to start classes at 7:40 a.m. The district met parents in the middle at 7:35 a.m.
The district also altered its proposed release times for high schools to 4:15 p.m.
“The day could have been longer to add more things, but on the survey, we had responses from people that would support some extended school hours, but not the maximum,” Savoy said.
Changing school start and release times also creates a trickle down effect from elementary to high schools.
Savoy said the district had to adjust to allow for turnaround time for buses to drop off students.
He said a 7:40 elementary school start time could have pushed high school release to 4:20 p.m.
“It all has to be put together in one package,” Savoy said. “The day is longer, but there are some benefits.”