BY Taylor Hatheway
Have you ever wondered why your friends at other schools get out of school earlier than you? Or why our school day is the length it is?
Jenks currently has 180 days in the instructional calendar, which meets the state of Oklahoma’s minimum for the number of days a school must be in session. However, Jenks actually builds its instructional calendar to meet an alternative minimum set forth by the state: attending school for 1,080 hours. Jenks chooses to use hours to measure the school because it allows for more flexibility in scheduling the school year.
The School Board lays out parameters on what they expect to see in a school calendar, and there are also state requirements for schools. Using this information, the Calendar Committee and Dr. Muller propose calendars which are then sent to the School Board for final approval, who has the final say on whether or not the calendar is accepted.
There are three different meetings involving Dr. Lisa Muller, the Calendar Committee, and the School Board. Dr. Muller, the Associate Superintendent for Educational Services in Jenks Public Schools. The Calendar Committee consists of one administrator, teacher, and parent from each school site, so, with 10 different sites, that involves 30 different people. The School Board is made up of five elected members, each representing a portion of the Jenks school district. These five people are in charge of making sure that, as the school calendar is created, all of the laws and regulations are being followed.
Jenks has the freedom, like all districts in Oklahoma, to choose when the school year starts and ends as long as they reach the minimum requirements for the amount of time in school. When Dr. Muller, the Calendar Committee, and the School Board create the calendar, they lay it out with the intention of reaching both the 1,080-hour minimum and 180-day minimum. However, each district does have to indicate which standard, hours or days, they are going to use to measure their school year. Jenks chooses to use hours and this decision came in handy with the teacher walkout last year. Jenks was able to make each school day longer so that students didn’t have to make up all ten days of school missed.
The state of Oklahoma also requires that school days consist of at least six hours of school activities. School activities include passing periods but not lunch. This means that the Jenks’ school day, clocking in at 6 hours and 5 minutes, reaches that requirement. However, Jenks does have one of the shorter school days compared to other schools around this area. This is why other districts may start their school year at the same time as us but get out earlier at the end of the year. They have longer school days, allowing them to meet the minimum requirement of 1,080 hours quicker.
While the state requires schools to be in session for 180 days, students at Jenks aren’t actually in classes for 180 days. The five professional days and two parent conference days listed on the calendar are included in that total number of days. This means that students are actually only going to school for 173 days.
Dr. Muller doesn’t see the state requirements changing anytime soon unless “there’s an agreement for increasing education funding”. As for the length of the school day at Jenks, it could change over time as the state laws and local decision-making changes.
Link to PDF of school calendar: https://www.jenksps.org/pages/uploaded_files/2018-19%20Calendar.pdf