Hurricane Dorian Resources
Information for Families
Because our district builds a small cushion into its calendar, we only need to make up a matter of hours and not an entire day.
Through collaboration with our unions, we have made the decision to take four Mondays originally scheduled as Early Release Days and extend those to be full school days.
The following Mondays will now become full school days: September 16, September 23, September 30 and October 7. Students WILL NOT be released early on those four days.
This means we will not have any more Early Release Days for the rest of this semester. Our next Early Release Day will be January 13, next semester.
We believe this plan will have the least impact on our families and employees and provide our students with the time in class they need to be successful.
The most important piece is making sure we have enough minutes spent in each class by our high school and middle school students for them to get credit for the class, under state law.
One reason is that Hillsborough students take seven classes each day for a potential of 28 credits at graduation, while many districts only schedule six classes a day for the minimum 24 credits. These extra four credits give our students more opportunities for AP, Dual Enrollment, CTE workforce training, electives, credit recovery and more.
This is a huge benefit for students. But—like slicing up a pie—creating an extra slice means each slice is smaller. So, for example, each day’s Economics class is a little shorter in Hillsborough than in districts with six periods. Those fewer minutes each day leave us at the end of the semester without much “extra” time in class to meet the state’s required number of minutes.
We also have Early Release Days on Mondays that provide dedicated time for teacher planning. This also removes minutes from each class. Several school districts do not have Early Release Days or do not have one every week. Other districts also may have normal class periods that are one or two minutes longer than Hillsborough’s, which can add up over the semester to give those districts more “extra” minutes to absorb class time lost to a hurricane.
While the lack of “extra” minutes can make handling a hurricane day challenging in Hillsborough, the powerful opportunities offered by an additional class period for middle and high school students makes this tradeoff worthwhile for our community.
Each semester has its own minimum requirement for time students need to spend in class. Hurricane Dorian was in the first semester. Student Day at the Florida State Fair (February 7) and Student Day at the Strawberry Festival (March 2) are in the second semester
Therefore, it is not an option to eliminate one of those days to make up the time missed due to Hurricane Dorian.
Our team is looking at a number of creative solutions to potentially make up this one missed day for Hurricane Dorian without adding another school day to the calendar. Students have a certain minimum number of minutes they are required to spend in class in order to get credit for that class. Because our schedule does have a small cushion built-in, we likely will only need to make up a matter of minutes or hours, and not an entire day.
Our district modified its early release schedule for the first semester because the beginning of the school year had to be pushed back. August 10 (the first day we are allowed to open school under state law) this year was a Saturday, so we started school on August 12. Those two days (August 10 and 11) are days that have to be made up in the first semester so students spend enough minutes in their classes to get credit.
Through an agreement with our teachers’ union, our district eliminated the Early Release Days in November and December—giving students enough additional minutes in class during the first semester to make up for the missed days of August 10 and 11. Because that additional time (one extra hour per Monday during November and December) must be used to make up for August 10 and 11, it can’t be used to make up for time missed due to Hurricane Dorian.
Our team is looking at a number of creative solutions to potentially make up this one missed day for Hurricane Dorian without adding another school day to the calendar. Students have a certain minimum number of minutes they are required to spend in class in order to get credit for that class. Because our schedule does still have a small cushion built-in, we likely will only need to make up a matter of minutes or hours, and not an entire day.
From our district's calendar:
Early release Mondays for Hillsborough Schools will be observed on the following dates in the first semester:
- August: 8/12, 8/19, 8/26
- September: 9/9, 9/16, 9/23, 9/30
- October: 10/7
- November: No early release
- December: No early release
See our district calendar at hillsboroughschools.org/calendar.
Our district does not have any extra full days of “cushion” built into our calendar for hurricanes—so any time that is missed has to be made up. Students have a certain minimum number of minutes they are required to spend in class each semester in order to get credit for that class.
If a full day is needed to make up missed minutes, our School Board has approved four current vacation days that could be converted back into regular school days: Nov 11, 25, 26, 27.
However, our team is looking at a number of creative solutions to potentially make up this one missed day for Hurricane Dorian without adding another full school day to the calendar. While our schedule does not have a full day of cushion built in, we do still have a small cushion of additional minutes in the schedule &mdsh; because of that, we likely will only need to make up a matter of minutes or hours, and not an entire day.
Required school days can be waived at the state level, however there is not a guarantee that will happen. In the past, the state has sometimes waived requirements for only counties more heavily impacted by a storm—not the entire state. Until we hear otherwise from the state, it’s prudent for us to work on plans to make up any missed time for the first semester using our own existing calendar.
State law sets when school starts and ends… and then we work to balance out the calendar in between, to make sure the first semester comes before Winter Break, and the second semester comes after Winter Break.
Here are the details on how that works, in less than 90 seconds:
By law, from the state Legislature, school must start on or after August 10th. That’s why the first day is sometimes on a Thursday or Friday. And by law, all end-of-course exams must happen in the month of May—locking in the end of the school year as one of the last days in May. Add in the traditional holidays and Fall, Winter and Spring Breaks, and that’s our starting point.
For students to get full credit for their classes, they have to spend a certain minimum amount of time in class in each semester. Any time missed in the first semester must be made up in the first semester, and cannot be exchanged for time in the second semester. So the two semesters have to be balanced.
But the balance isn’t easy.
The first semester has a lot more traditional holidays—and we’re committed to making sure the first semester ends before the Winter Break. That way, students are enjoying that break with family and not studying and sweating about any due dates or big exams scheduled right after the break.
To make sure we have our semesters balanced, a diverse committee, including parents and staff—around 50 stakeholders—meets and carefully recommends non-student days in the second semester to balance the calendar.
That's why we have some days off in the second semester that may seem unexpected—the committee does that to balance the semesters.
The calendar then goes to your elected representatives on our School Board for final approval.