As 4-day weeks trend in Texas, Humble ISD sticks with current calendar (2024)

Morgen Dozier

Students walk the halls between classes as the school year winds down in May. As districts across Texas prepare to move to four-day weeks, Humble ISD plans to keep its current schedule — which includes an October and February break — in place.

Krisslyn Boyles, Special Contributor
May 11, 2023

With a teacher shortage plaguing much of the country, Crosby ISD changed its school schedule to a four-day week in hopes of attracting more teachers. Crosby is one of almost 60 school districts making the switch to a four-day week in Texas alone.

“There’s a teacher shortage all over America,” Humble ISD superintendent Elizabeth fa*gen said. “Some districts have it a lot more than others. And we’re fairly blessed.”

Crosby is the most recent and largest district in Texas to make the change. They are also the first in Harris County.

With 172 certified teaching positions available for the 2023-24 school year in Humble ISD, changing to a four-day week schedule has been contemplated by fa*gen.

“I think it sounds like a tool that could be explored in some communities,” fa*gen said. “I think our calendar that we have here is actually preferred and does help us with teacher retention.”

fa*gen, who was hired in 2016, was instrumental in creating Humble ISD’s current calendar, where students have a week off in October, November, February and March, along with two weeks for winter break in December/January.

The schedule was first implemented in 2018.

“Forney ISD started making changes to their calendar and parents started hearing about it,” fa*gen said. “And some of my school board members started to hear about it and they asked us to look into it.

“The current schedule has been a great solution to attract more teachers to the school, and the reason I know that is because a lot of the districts around us are changing to our calendar because they’re losing staff to us.”

Each Texas school is required to have 75,600 instructional minutes each year. To make the change to a four-day week, Crosby had to extend its days by 20-25 minutes to meet the minimum requirement.

If Humble ISD switched to a four-day week, fa*gen said some of the week-long breaks would have to go and the days would be longer.

“I do think that when you add an hour to the day, you’re probably pushing the limit of how long students can be fully engaged in the learning process,” fa*gen said.

English teacher Marissa Manfred has taught in the district for 25 years and loved the change made when the extra weeks off were implemented. She spends those weeks focused on her kids, and she said the breaks seem necessary for her students too.

“I’m jealous that I didn’t have it when I was growing up,” Manfred said. “I look at all the things I’ve done with my family just in the past few years with the weeks off.”

While families often vacation during the October and February breaks since vacation destinations are less crowded, the extra weeks off have moved the first day of school up to early August. Next year, classes start Aug. 9. Teachers report July 31.

“It shortens the summer break a little bit so that the youngest students have less time between one year to the next and there’s less of that learning loss,” fa*gen said.

Currently, students are required to be in school for 75,600 minutes each year. In the most recent Texas legislation, a House bill was proposed to ban districts from switching to four-day weeks by requiring districts to spread those minutes across 175 days.

The Crosby calendar for the 2023-24 school year has 163 instructional days. In comparison, Humble ISD had 174 instructional days this year, even with its unique October and February weeks off.

“I do always question the state or whoever says that we have to have so many school days,” Manfred said. “Is there any research that shows that results in optimal learning? Why does it have to be eight hours? I feel that going ahead, education is going to have to change.

“We are going to have to ask these big questions and think outside the box if we want to keep kids in school or it’s going to be a wave of kids going to homeschooling. It’s something that I feel very strongly about. I question a lot of why we do things the way we do.”

As 4-day weeks trend in Texas, Humble ISD sticks with current calendar (2024)

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