School Calendar Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The St. Johns County School District Calendar is developed by a Calendar Committee that is comprised of parents, teachers, school district staff, support staff and union representatives.  The committee meets multiple times annually, under the direction of the Associate Superintendent for Human Resources. This committee ensures that all statutory requirements are met for the issuance of course credits, instructional minutes, observance of appropriate holidays, teacher planning time, etc.

The committee’s recommendation is presented to the Superintendent (School Board Rule 3.18) who then forwards it to the School Board Members. The calendar is presented at a school board workshop and voted on at one of their monthly meetings.

SJCSD School Calendars must meet the following requirements:

  • Earliest start time is August 10.   (Florida Statute 1001.42 (f))
  • Total number of school days equivalent to 180   (Florida Statute 1003.02 (14.g.1.))
  • 90 Days each semester
  • Past practice has been to end the first semester prior to winter break
  • High School Credit – 135 hours = 1 full credit (State Statute 1003.436)
  • Must have 8 Teacher Planning days – 4 during pre-planning, 1 at the end of each quarter (SJEA Contract 2014-17, Article XV)
  • Must have 2 Teacher In-service days per year for Professional Development – one in each semester (SJEA Contract 2014-17, Article XV)
  • Must be in school on the designated Department of Education Full Time Equivalent (FTE) survey week. This is when a snapshot is taken of our student enrollment and attendance over a course of 11 days.
  • National holidays are considered as the calendar is created.
  • The Calendar Committee solicits feedback from the public on proposed calendars before submitting them to the School Board for approval.  This is done through a survey posted on the school district website.
  • Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below to learn more about the parameters associated with the development of the school calendar.
Q: Is there a minimum number of teaching days required by the state?

A: Yes, in accordance with state law, FL. Statute 1003.02 (14. g.1.) all school districts must have at least 180 teaching days.

Q: Why does school always seem to start on August 10?

A: Florida Statute 1001.42 (f) does not allow Florida schools to begin before August 10. To get in the number of required days in the first semester and while working around holidays, it is necessary to start in early August.

Q: Why can’t we start later, closer to Labor Day?

A: We must meet minimal instructional time. The required time is a minimum of 135 hours of instruction per course for the purpose of one full course credit. This equates to 67.5 hours or 4,050 minutes per semester.  At 45 minutes per day per class, this equates to 90 days in the first semester.  In order to meet the overwhelming response from the community to end the first semester before the winter holiday and to meet the Florida Statute requiring 67.5 hours per semester, the start date must occur close to the beginning of August.

Q: Why are there so many planning days?

A: The school district and the St. Johns Education Association have agreed in the negotiated contract for instructional personnel that there will be one planning day per grading period for teachers to enter grades and prepare report cards. While there are a total of 8 planning days, four are taken during pre-planning and one at the end of each marking period.

Q: Why have Early Release every Wednesday?

A: Our district introduced early release Wednesday’s over 15 years ago in order to provide teachers with time to analyze student achievement data, collaborate with colleagues, align their instruction for maximum student learning and receive professional development. In addition, having this time allows our teachers to modify and adjust their instruction to best meet the needs of their students.

Q: Why isn’t our Spring Break the same as surrounding counties (such as Duval, Clay, Putnam) and/or the same as St. Johns River State College, local private schools, Flagler College, University of North Florida, etc.?

A: The calendar committee considers all of these when the information is available but also must look at assessment schedules, which are determined by the state, while still allowing for 45 instructional days in the third and fourth quarters as well as a planning day in each quarter for teachers.

Q: Why can’t we have the whole week of Thanksgiving off?

A: In order to have that week off we would either have to shorten winter break or have the first semester exams in January, after the break, which has a negative impact on student testing results.  In addition, some families feel that students should truly have a winter break and students should not have to review for exams while on vacation.

Q: Why don’t we get Columbus Day off? That is a very common three-day weekend in other states.

A: In Florida, school funding is determined by student attendance counts (known as a Survey) during two designated periods per year.  The first time the students are counted is during the second full week of October.  Also, as stated above, it is very difficult to fit 90 instructional days in between August 10 and winter break.

Q: Why does the first semester always end before winter break?

A: The first semester ends prior to the winter break to allow students to take semester exams prior to winter break. In addition, we need to align with local college schedules for students taking dual enrollment classes. By doing so, students have mid-terms prior to the holidays so they are not returning after winter break and studying for exams. All students and teachers (and their families) will have a true break from school between semesters. It allows students to start on a new semester when they return from winter break.

Q: Why can’t we have the same schedule for spring break every year?

A: We are subject to the testing schedule set by the State of Florida and we sincerely try to give the students and teachers ample time to get through as many standards before the testing begins while still getting in a spring break that can be relaxing for everyone.

Q: How can I find state testing dates for my child?
Q: Can we move the FSA testing dates?

A: No, as a district we are unable to move the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) testing dates.  These dates are set by the Department of Education (DOE) in Tallahassee.

Q: When will high school graduations be held?

A: There are many factors that must be considered when scheduling high school graduation ceremonies. The district office works with high school principals to determine where and when each graduation will take place. Teacher contract time, testing, facility availability and graduating class size are all considerations when making setting the dates and times of graduations.

Q: Are there hurricane make up days in our calendar?

A: Yes. There are designated days assigned. The Superintendent makes a recommendation to the School Board on days designated on the calendar to be used as make up days.

Q: How are parents involved in the process?

A: In addition to having parent representatives on the committee, the proposed calendar is placed on the District’s website for feedback. Feedback received is taken back to the Calendar Committee to review and make any necessary changes. While there are some strong opinions on various components of the calendar, ultimately the School Board bases its decisions that is in the best educational interest of all students in our school district.

Q: When is the school year calendar approved?

A: The School Board typically approves the calendar at their November or December School Board Meeting for the upcoming one or two school years.