Behind the scenes: the process of making the yearly Jeffco calendars

Although+the+2020-2021+school+year+has+been+very+weird%2C+the+calendar+Jeffco+has+made+hasn%27t+seen+any+changes.+Photo+courtesy+of+Behnam+Norouzi+on+Unsplash.

Although the 2020-2021 school year has been very weird, the calendar Jeffco has made hasn’t seen any changes. Photo courtesy of Behnam Norouzi on Unsplash.

Every year a new Jeffco school calendar is released detailing what days Jeffco students and teachers will be in and out of school. Those calendars include everything from what day the school year starts and ends to breaks that students have. The question is: what is the process of making those calendars and who helps make them?

The process starts with establishing a new committee every three years to create a new three year cycle of Jeffco calendars for the upcoming three years. The committee for the 2019-2022 calendars was approved by the Jeffco board of education back on November 2, 2017.

Former board of education member Amanda Stevens explains, “There were more than 30 members, including representation from the Jeffco Education Support Professionals Association (JESPA), Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), Jefferson County Administrators Association (JCAA), Parent/Teacher Association (PTA), Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (SPAC),  and the District Accountability Committee (DAC).” 

The committee also included Jeffco schools staff members, parents of Jeffco students, the community superintendent, counselors, athletics, human resources department, and community members including a religious community representative.

This committee met four times: March 7, March 22, April 11, and May 9 of 2018 to establish the calendars for the 2019-2022 school years. During these meetings, the committee discussed many different aspects which included the 185 days a year that Jeffco teachers are responsible for being present due to their contracts, federal and religious holidays, snow days, parent/teacher conferences, testing, breaks, and the hour requirements set by the state.

Jeffco board of education member Stephanie Schooley explains, “The primary driver behind setting school calendars is state requirements that are created by the Colorado Board of Education. Those requirements are laid out in terms of how many instructional hours students must have and how many total days school must be in session.” And continues, “Lastly, the calendar committee adds in days for teacher professional development (non-student contact days), holidays/breaks, and snow days. Otherwise, that committee can suggest start and end dates that they feel work best for families, educators, the weather, etc.”

The committee for making yearly calendars at Jeffco takes in a lot of factors when coming up with a calendar. Photo courtesy of Estee Janssens on Unsplash.

In addition to this, the committee also conducted surveys regarding the school calendars across the entire Jeffco community where they received over 3,000 responses. Considering all of that information the committee came up with 6 different drafts of calendars. Those calendars were then consolidated into one calendar for each year and approved at the final meeting and presented to the superintendent.

The one aspect that was unexpected and unanticipated when establishing the calendars was the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, although the pandemic has changed the way that students have been learning this year, the calendar for the 2020-2021 year has stayed on course so far and it seems that it will be for the rest of the year.

Schooley states, “In terms of any adjustments to the calendar due to COVID, I have not heard or suggested an extension of the school calendar or any other amendment to this current school year. However, we are discussing what opportunities the district and community partners are making available to students to address learning losses that happened for many kids over this past year. Hopefully, we’ll hear more about those opportunities in the coming meetings.”

While the pandemic continues to affect education in Jeffco, the yearly school calendar cycle of the 2019-2022 school year is over after the end of the next school year. This means that the same process that occurred to make the 2019-2022 school calendars will be repeated again starting in the 2022-2023 school year. 

Former board of education member Amanda Stevens adds, “Be aware the next calendar committee will not be convened until closer to 2023.”

From an outside view, the process of making yearly school calendars might seem simple, but it actually takes a lot of time and effort to make.