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ISD 2018-2019 School Calendar and FAQs

November 9, 2017--The Board adopted the 2018-2019 school calendar at last week’s meeting. Based on feedback from parents and discussion with the school educational leadership, I recommended to the Board that we move the start of school back to August 16 with the last day of school on June 13.

Aside from the change to the start and the end date, the calendar will look similar to this year’s. Creating a school calendar requires the administration to balance a variety of needs and wants while honoring the holidays of our diverse community.

The calendar can be found here.

The administration and Board are asked many questions each year when the school calendar for the following year is published. Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions and the answers to those questions.

Please contact me ( with any questions you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions about School Calendar

The administration and Board are asked many questions each year when the school calendar for the following year is published. Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions and the answers to those questions.

How is the schedule created?

The standard for International and American school calendars is 180 days. The administration determines the start. Next, the major holidays and school vacations are placed on the calendar. Once these are accounted for in addition to 180 instructional days, the end date is established.

Why does the school start so early?

The school moved to an earlier start date, the second week in August when ISD became an International Baccalaureate School offering the IB Diploma program for students in grades 11 and 12. In grade 12, the students will sit external exams based on a schedule determined by the International Baccalaureate Organization. The exams begin on May 1 and run for three weeks. In order to provide the students with the maximum number of instructional days as well as enough time for review, it is common for schools to start in the second week of August.

A number of parents have requested we adjust the start date to better line up with family vacation schedules. The administration is proposing a compromise of starting school in the third week of August, one week later than this year.

If the IB students need to start early, why do all the other students have to start at the same time? Why not have the middle and elementary school students start two weeks later?

There are two reasons, family and teacher schedules. Most of our families have multiple children. While one may be in the IB Program, there may be one, two, or three others who are in the lower grades of high school, the middle school or elementary school. If the schools had different start dates, they would also have different end dates. This would require the families with multiple children to be in country up to one month extra to accommodate for the different start and end dates.

Also, our IB teachers also teach other high school students, and in some cases, middle school students. Having different start and end dates would increase the number of work days they have, which would be in violation of our existing work contracts.

Why does the school take so many holidays?

Our community is very diverse with a range of nationalities, cultures, and religions We honor the major holidays of our families, Tabaski, American Thanksgiving, Mawlud, Easter Monday, Korite, as well as the major Senegalese holidays, Independence Day and Labor Day.

The school establishes school vacation weeks spread throughout the year to allow our students time to rest and recharge. Our goal is to place them at roughly the quarter marks of the school year. We have five weeks of vacation, one in the fall, three weeks for the winter (Christmas) break, and one in the Spring. For comparison, Lycee Mermoz takes eight weeks of vacation during the year, two in the fall, Christmas, winter, and spring.

Why does the school not close for all Senegalese holidays?

There are many disruptions to the school calendar. To minimize the number of disruptions, we chose not to honor all of Senegalese holidays. There are 14 Senegalese holidays during the academic year. We are closed for nine of them. Closing for all 14 would add another week to the school year. These decisions are made after conversations with our community.

Why are there so many half-days?

The school uses half-days, often on Fridays, for two purposes, parent-teacher conferences and teacher professional development and planning,

The partnership between the school and the parents is a critical part of our school. The parent-teacher conferences provides the parents dedicated time with the teachers to learn about their children’s progress and what can the student or parents to do help the child improve.

The half-days that are used for professional development and planning are an important tool in helping the school continually improve. Some of these days are used to provide teachers with professional development on new instructional strategies or ways to support students. Other days are used to give teachers from all three schools (elementary, middle, and high) time to meet to discuss curriculum and make decisions about new programs. These meetings are not possible during the school day and many teachers are involved in after-school activities and sports, which prevent the meetings from happening then.

Why don’t you have 180 full student days then add in professional development days as needed beyond the 180?

Teachers are contracted for 190 days in total. 180 of them are student contact days and six days without students. The six days include three days before school starts to prepare, two days of professional development, and one day after school ends to close up. The four remaining days are for the Week Without Walls trips. During these trips, which last one to five days, the teachers are “on duty” 24 hours a day. The extra four work days are in recognition of the extra time the teachers work during these trips.

Could the parent-conferences be after school?

Some schools do hold parent-conferences after school. I have worked at some. However, the quality of the teacher feedback and reflections is very different at night compared to during the day. It would be very hard on the teachers to teach 7 hours, coach a sport, then have the proper level of energy to engage with parents for two to three hours at night. The current schedule improves the overall quality of feedback the teachers can provide to the parents.

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