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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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Investigating the DCPS Calendar

Frances Leibovich

As DCPS students, we have all experienced annoyance and confusion towards our seemingly random schedule. Whether that means guessing if it is an A or B week or trying to plan spring breaks with private school friends and siblings, the DCPS calendar is constantly a seemingly unpredictable variable. 

With spring break only a few weeks away, the absence of our beloved February break has left us all counting down the days until our upcoming week of freedom. This year’s spring break is April 13-21, the same week it was last year. This begs the question: why wasn’t the schedule adjusted to accommodate the absence of February break?

To answer this, we first have to understand how DCPS organizes its initial schedule. Their first priority is to include the following legal requirements of 180 school days, 10 DC government holidays, 10 professional development (PD) days, and four and a half days at the end of each term for grading. In addition, two Parent-Teacher conference days and at least 14 days of student breaks are traditionally included. These 14 days of student breaks are malleable to DCPS and can be reorganized, shortened, or lengthened without any violations. 

DCPS says that they create an initial calendar proposal informed by previous community feedback, district priorities, and calendar requirements. Although on their website it is unclear how they collect information from the community, the opinions of families is the most common reason listed for a calendar change. A highly reported request was to keep Spring Break tied to DC Emancipation Day (April 16), which DC maintained through the initial, and eventually final, version of the schedule, despite the removal of February break.

This decision is not fully accepted by students, some sharing varying responses and concerns. Sophomore Leif Engler expressed that “it feels like there is too much of a gap between winter and spring break.” Sophomore Luca Apaloo-Walla added that “a couple of extra long weekends just isn’t the same as a week off.” 

Still, a commonly asked question among students is, “why did they remove February break in the first place?”

According to the DCPS website, one of the top requested changes this year was to end school a week earlier than it did last year. This caused some major reorganization of how breaks are laid out. Instead of having a week off in February, DCPS instituted two long weekends in February and March by adding PD days. This didn’t alter the 180 day count as pre existing PD days were simply moved, so this switch allows for the school year to end early without losing too much vacation time. This is a controversial decision for sure, but it may be a compromise that DCPS runs with in the next few years.

When analyzing the calendar making process, there is a repetitive theme of taking “community suggestions” but never turning to student opinions, instead only relying on surveys directed towards parents and members of DCPS. The opinions taken into account seemed to lean towards supporting the removal of February break, and after asking students, many opinions surprisingly harmonize with those of DCPS. Sophomore Kahlel Mighty shared, “Having one more week of summer is a lot more valuable than a week off in February.” Sophomore Celia Joldersma asserted that “February break was great for a bit, but the annoyance of being in school in late June is not worth it.”

Overall, DCPS’s decisions regarding the calendar seem to be more educated and sensible then they might have initially appeared. It’s always good to see the integration of community feedback into the organization of the school year, but it is also clear that many student’s opinions are not heard by DCPS.

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