My district was notorious for turning off the AC during the summer. Even in the band hall when they weren't supposed to. The custodians often worked in very hot buildings because the district was saving a buck. Or would set the thermostat at like 80. And the summer schedule was Monday through Thursday and they would in fact turn it off Friday through Sunday. Often Monday mornings were awful because the chiller would kick on Monday at 6 but the building wouldn't catch up until 10....
The schedule could flex some but we shall see if athletics and UIL schedules would adjust. And if each district sets their own inevitably there will be UIL/sport events when someone is not in classes. So everyone better be prepared for that "2 weeks" of non-paid instruction time to be work because if UIL falls during that time, your butt will be in the band hall. And don't punish kids that miss because that was the only time they had to take a vacation. Just sayin.
As for your last statement - I have reached the age when I am tired of "keeping up and doing better". We are forgetting what life is! I once thought I wanted to be part of that race. No longer. Iced tea on covered porches listening to birds, (not traffic). Starting the work day after the sun came up and ending it before the sun goes down. "Do better"... What does that even mean? 60 hour work weeks are over-rated. Quality of life! Time to get back to that instead of more time in class and more more more. Less less LESS!
There were a grand total of 13 districts that used the OFSY plan last time it was utilized - in the 2018-2019 school year. This isn't "many" districts. Also, DoI has taken the need for OFSY completely off the table, so it's no longer necessary to keep looking at this old policy.
That being said, yes, it's entirely based upon agriculture. The traditional schooling model was set up so that students would be in classrooms after harvest (after late August/early September) and stay in until late spring, where planting would need to occur. This calendar wasn't set up with Texas in mind, it was with northern states whose climate is different. That's why I call it the agricultural calendar, because that's flat out what it was.
You're saying "most families take vacations in summer" .. that is also not true. Most people can't afford to vacation, or don't have paid vacation days in many industries nowadays. People take vacations during summer because that's when their kids are off. If kids were off in (random month) April, many people would take vacations in April as well. For more evidence of this, look at any coastal city in March or April (Spring Break months). There are millions of people taking vacations because that's when they're off. Period.
Finally, for your citing of "environmental" issues - 99% of districts I know run HVAC all year long. They have to keep the band hall cooled, they have to make sure the heat stays on so pipes don't break. They don't shut the A/C off in July just because kids aren't there.. wait.. kids ARE there because of summer programs, summer school, and athletics practices. School is ALREADY becoming year-round. Let's just make it official.
And as for tourism: Six Flags has already decided that they're going to be open year-round. At least, they would be if they were open at all. Disney is open year-round. Six Flags made that announcement back in August of 2019 - that beginning with the 2020 "season" it would operate year-round.
And finally, with regards to the breaks: six weeks on, two weeks off, two extra at the end of semesters. That's 52 weeks. Done. Same amount of time off, spread through the year. You say that "people found that it was less effective" but you cite no sources or proof, just have assertions that it is. As a band director, I would personally LOVE to not have to have four weeks of triage at the start of every school year getting kids used to playing again since they last touched their instrument ten weeks ago. (Hard to get kids to take instruments home over the summer when they're school owned and need to be serviced)
The ripples are already happening. Time to get on board. The world is ALREADY changing. It's time for education to keep up. Most European schools already operate year-round. China goes September through late July. Australia goes January through December, 200 days. We have fewer school days and less instruction than most of the rest of the world. If we want to keep up, we need to start doing better. This would help.
My plan is based off of an existing TEA option: Optional Flexible School Year (OFSY). Many district already choose this option for remediation based learning and give the students who don't need it an early vacation. But, it isn't like it is going to be a surprise that the district would be using those weeks. It's like a bad weather day: when school has to be shut down because of a weather event, families know those days will be made up and when. The same holds turn for my idea. As for hourly staff (I assume you mean cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, administrative professionals. etc), many of those either a) continue to work throughout the the break meaning this is no different for them or b) would relish the extra hours since they lost work before. The same holds true for schools who would go an extra two weeks.
Adding two extra weeks (even three) would take the end of the school year to the end of May/ beginning of June (depending on the last official school day). That is no longer than what many schools already do.
But, you are FAR more short-sighted than you think. A traditional mid-August to end of May calendar is more that just sticking to an "agricultural calendar".
- This calendar lines up with college and university schedules. This allows not just those entering college for the first time more time to prepares, but allows those teachers/administrators who are taking courses toward a masters/doctorate to start summer courses without the burden of having to finish up a school year.
- Summer is the traditional time for families to take vacations. Why? Weather is better. By shifting away from the traditional "agricultural calendar" you are disrupting these opportunities.
- It takes more money to cool a school building during the summer that it does to cool it in the late fall/winter. Don't believe me, ask your district. It's a matter of science. Lots of people (kids and adults) in a confined space will automatically cause the ambient room temperature to rise. Maybe not a lot in a large place like a band, gym, or cafeteria, but certainly in a classroom. This is one of the reasons many school thermostats are set low in winter; they are anticipating body heat to do the rest. However, that same body heat is going to make they system work harder during the summer, causing energy bills to rise. That causes a financial burden on the district. You may not think it is a lot, but to districts it is huge, especially those who get rebates for staying under a certain amount of energy used like ours does (it's also one of the reasons everyone complains about how hot rooms are in August; they are trying to keep costs down)
- Other schools around the country actually stick pretty close to the same schedule as we do (give or take a week). However, most are setup for the same reason I just mentioned: environmental. Those states also have different rules regarding how long the school day should be and how many days the school year should be. But basically, they follow the same calendar structure.
- Entire industries are built around the current school calendar. But, it isn't just the school calendar or as you erroneously call it the "agricultural calendar". It is the seasonal calendar. Even if you shifted the calendar to where there was a longer break in winter and a shorter break in summer, that wouldn't mean more people would take longer vacations in winter or spread them out among the two longer breaks. Instead, you would see major attractions extra packed during that shortened summer break. Why? The weather is better. Yes, Disney is busy during the winter holiday season because they have special events going on, however the attendance during that time is about the same as they would get during two week in the summer. Ditto with Six Flags and any other major amusement destination. Heck, event destination cities/states/attractions (Las Vegas, New York, California, Florida, every single beach town in the US) sees more business during the summer than other times of the year.
- Burnout is real, Not just for teachers, but for students to. Everyone needs the break. The summer give students a chance to nothings they can't do during the school year (go to camps, work, explore new hobbies, just be a kid). For the adults, it is a time to digest what worked and didn't work during the year and either refine or develop new plans. Some teacher actually need to take a second job during the summer (make ends meet for younger, lower paid teachers; extra money to pay off student loans or to add into retirement; or just extra spending money). Cutting the summer break shorter or shifting the calendar around could hurt this because some of these jobs are seasonal and may not exist past a certain point or may be taken by college kids who got out earlier.
- The TEA powerpoint shows the drop off in knowledge retention over the summer break. However, years ago when year round school was looking like the trend everyone wanted to follow, numerous studies showed that students actually made less gains over the course of the year compared to their traditional calendar counterparts. It also showed the traditional school counter parts retention level was the same or slightly higher than where the year rounders were when they started the new year. The findings indicated that students and teachers didn't see the need to rush to address new concepts since the "finish line" was further away. We've seen that in our own band halls where we get tossed something new to do and the directors and student step up to meet the challenge because the deadline is near, where when we start a longer process section (C&SR for example) there might be less agency because we pass out music in January for a late March or early April evaluation.
What you are proposing by shifting away from a seasonal calendar (it isn't an "agricultural calendar") would have a ripple effect across the country and possibly (if the entire US did this) the world.
1. Why? Why can't school start Sept 1? Or Oct 1? Why are we married to the agricultural calendar?
2. Again, why? Why can't school go to mid-June like many other places in this country? Why are we so set in "August to May" in this state?
3&4. These are terrible ideas. You're making it so parents and students can't schedule vacations. You're making it so that groups can't schedule camps - because we "might" have two more weeks of school.
5. See #s 3&4. Also, the hourly staff may be entitled to that break.
This is short-sighted and is focused entirely on "I want my classes to be able to meet in a traditional setting." There are more important things.