Our Calendar Recommendation to the FHSD Calendar Committee [Editorial]


By The FHN Media Editorial Board

Fall Break.
First Semester Finals.
The Last Day of School.

These will all be important topics this evening as FHSD’s Calendar Committee will hold their first meeting to discuss the new calendar for the 2020-21 School Year. A new Missouri law requires schools to be in session for 1,044 hours and start school no sooner than 14 days before the first Monday in September. This will directly impact the school calendar students have gotten used to in Francis Howell Schools.

To help the committee, we have created a calendar that we believe will benefit all students, meet Missouri’s new requirements, and maintain as much of a normal school schedule as possible.  

To create our calendar, we recommend rethinking Professional Development Half-Days for students, cutting 13 hours from the year, reducing Fall Break to a 5-day long weekend, and adding a buffer period after Christmas Break before taking finals in January. These changes would allow school to end on May 21.


Look at a higher resolution version of this calendar here.


Rethink Professional Development Half-Days for Students
FHSD will lose 65.8 instructional hours at the beginning of August 2020 due to its later school start date. One place to make up these hours would be to have students attend the morning and leave in the afternoon on professional development days, instead of having a full day off as in past years. 

By including a half-day of professional development, students are still able to have a break or a long weekend. Teachers can still get instructional time in the afternoons after students have gone.

Professional development days would be full work-days for teachers, but students would leave school at 11:40, providing for about 4 hours of student instruction. 

Move to a 5-Day Fall Break
Fall Break has become a staple of the Francis Howell School District. Parents and students enjoy the time to take vacations with one another, as well as have a break in between first and second quarter. 

In order to provide this break for students and families while keeping the end of the school year before Memorial Day, FHSD should have a 5-day Fall Break on October 21-25 of next year. This break would create a long 5-day weekend for families, similar to Thanksgiving Break. 

This 5-day weekend is still enough time to go on vacations and relax in October, while providing 13 extra hours of instructional time on the Monday and Tuesday before break. 

Push Finals After Christmas Break
No parent wants their child to stress over finals when they are looking to enjoy the holiday season, but holding finals after Christmas Break is the only way to maintain even semesters and keep Fall Break.

In this calendar, students would not be immediately jumping into finals right after their break, but have some time to prepare outside of their break.

In our calendar, we have created a 4-day buffer period after winter break (Jan. 5-8) and before first semester finals (Jan. 11-13). This buffer period could be used to give students study and review time, help students through registration for next year, or hold all-school events and service projects, like a college or career fair.

Cut 13 Hours from the School Year
Missouri requires its students to be in school for 1,044 hours per year. In FHSD’s 2019-20 calendar, they have planned 1,083 hours per year to provide some extra time in cases of emergency, like a building flood that requires one school to be shut down.

By cutting 13 hours from the school year, our new calendar would have 1,068 hours in the year, providing a 24 hour, or 3.6 day, emergency buffer for the district. 

While students would miss 13 hours of time with their teachers, this time would come off the end of the year. Many students take AP tests at the beginning of May, and spend this time doing simple work that is not always related to the course they take. Many classes also spend time throughout the year watching and analyzing movies, which could be removed from plans to help adjust to the loss of two days.

We feel that this calendar best combines the priorities of students, parents, and faculty to help our students succeed in the upcoming school year and we hope the committee will consider our recommendations. 

To find out more information about the bill and its effects on FHSD, read our news story.

Correction: An earlier version of this story used incorrect dates for the the proposed buffer period and first semester final dates. These dates have been updated.