Students in College Station schools will return to campuses Aug. 13 following revisions to the 2020-2021 school calendar approved by the district’s school board this week.

The last day of school — May 27 — and holidays will remain unchanged in the revised calendar. Teachers will report to their campuses on Aug. 10.

Superintendent Mike Martindale said the calendar adds more than 2,600 instructional minutes to the school year for elementary and secondary campuses.

The state requires districts to have a minimum of 75,600 minutes of instructional time. College Station’s new calendar will give elementary campuses 79,200 minutes and secondary campuses 80,100 minutes, he said during a presentation to the board Tuesday, giving elementary schools an extra 8.5 days and secondary schools an extra 10.7 days.

“This allows us to acquire a little more time, give ourselves some cushion without completely turning our previously adopted calendar upside down,” Martindale said.

The additional days and minutes means if the district has to close unexpectedly for a week for any reason, students would not have to make up those days, he said

“We still in our calendar have capacity to reach the minimum requirements without having to submit a waiver or be at risk of not getting a waiver approved,” he said, noting a district’s funding is “significantly” reduced if it loses days and the submitted waiver is not approved.

If the district does not have any lost instructional time, Martindale said, the additional days just become more time the students get to spend in the classroom.

District administrators are also working on curriculum plans to allow for extended review at the start of the school year to help close any gaps that may have occurred with the switch to distance learning this spring caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have all confidence in the world that as kids return — when and if — that our teachers are going to assess and find out where those kids are, and they’re going to meet them there, and they’re going to support them to start rolling again.”

The additional six instructional days makes the school year 180 days for students, which puts the district at the threshold needed to qualify for Additional Days School Year funding from the Texas Education Agency to provide remedial services in June to identified students.

The Bryan school district revised its calendar earlier this month. The school year will begin Aug. 17 for students, and the last day will be May 28. As in College Station, Bryan’s updated calendar will not change the set holidays.

Before Tuesday’s meeting, the College Station board also heard presentations during a workshop about the budget and how students will receive instruction.

The current budget is expected to end with a $2.7 million deficit, which is better than the originally approved $3.4 million deficit, said Amy Drozd, the district’s chief financial officer. Over the next few weeks and months, she said, she will be monitoring property values and changes implemented by TEA, estimating student enrollment and finalizing the district’s compensation plan.

Chief Academic Officer Penny Tramel told the board the district plans to offer a virtual-learning option during the next school year for families who are not comfortable with their students returning to campus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The district is also exploring a hybrid of at-home learning and in-person instruction.

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