HISD Board of Education approves academic calendar for 2018-19

November 10, 2017 GMT

Houston ISD’s Board of Education approved the district’s 2018-2019 academic calendar Thursday night, opting to give students the entire week of Thanksgiving off and starting school on the fourth Monday of August.

Trustees voted 7-0, with two abstaining, to approve the calendar, which will also close schools for winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 4, and spring break from March 11 through 15.

Additionally, students would have one day off for a “Fall Holiday” on Sept. 10, 2018 and a “Spring Holiday” on April 19, 2019. The last day of school would be on May 31, after Memorial Day weekend.

Among the Houston area’s largest school districts, Houston ISD is typically the first to approve its academic calendar for the coming school year.

Last year, Fort Bend and Conroe ISDs approved their calendars for the coming school year in January, while Pasadena ISD and Cypress-Fairbanks ISD’s Boards of Education approved those districts’ schedules in February.


But school start dates across the Houston region are far from uniform, as more and more districts take advantage of a 2-year-old state designation that allows them to exempt themselves from some parts of the Texas Education Code.

Under a law passed in 2015, districts can earn District of Innovation status and skirt some regulations if they meet certain performance requirements. Lawmakers at the time said the designation would give districts some of the same freedoms enjoyed by open-enrollment charter schools. The flexibility offered by the status mainly covers operational requirements such as state reporting, hiring practices and the length of the school day. It offers no exemptions for curriculum or testing.

Of 31 school districts in the greater Houston metropolitan area, 25 are now considered Districts of Innovation, according to the TEA’s website. Only six do not currently have the status, including Houston ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, Klein ISD, Goose Creek ISD, Lamar CISD and New Caney ISD.

That means the Houston area’s two largest school districts will have to continue to start school on the fourth Monday of August, while 25 others could start earlier.

This year, 17 districts started their school years earlier than the fourth week of August, thanks to the District of Innovation program.

Moving the start date to earlier in the summer has seen mixed reactions from communities across the area. Those against earlier start dates say starting in mid-August sends students back to school, and often out to physical education, during the hottest days of the year, and deprives some the chance to go to summer camp or visit with families up north.

Others argue the later start date makes it much more difficult for high school students to finish out the first semester and take their first semester exams before winter break, and makes it almost impossible to get students out of school before the Memorial Day weekend.


Also discussed Thursday was the day Houston ISD canceled classes ahead of the Astros World Series Parade in Downtown Houston. At the time, Carranza said he decided to cancel school due to transportation and safety concerns, and so students could celebrate. Hundreds of teachers and bus drivers also alerted their supervisors they would not come into work the day of the parade.

The board voted 7-0, with two trustees absent, to approve paying teachers for that day.

Trustee Dianna Davila said she ran into a HISD teacher and Fort Bend ISD teacher the day before the parade and talked to them about their plans.

“You should have seen the Fort Bend ISD teacher’s face and our Houston ISD’s teacher’s face,” Davila said. “She was so excited to go to the parade, so thank you for allowing our students to go to that parade.”

Trustee Anna Eastman said she wasn’t thrilled about the decision to cancel school but didn’t want teachers to lose out on pay.

“I hope we have a contingency plan for when we have an expected large teacher shortage in the future and won’t have to call school off,” Eastman said.