Students getting off of a bus

Since last spring, we have had many stakeholder conversations about the balanced calendar concept.  Specifically, we’ve had 18 meetings with various groups including GCPS team members, parents, students, and community leaders/partners since April.  These opportunities to discuss the potential of a balanced calendar in our school community have provided great feedback from a variety of perspectives.

As of today, the consideration of a balanced calendar for GCPS is still that, a consideration.  We will continue these conversations and continue to explore the concept as a potential fit for our community throughout the fall.  Our School Board supports this exploration and plans to consider a 2022-23 calendar recommendation in November and December.  In the meantime, we’re providing this update to be sure our team is knowledgeable about the discussions to date.

Why consider a change?

There are three primary reasons for exploring the possibility of an adjustment to our school calendar:

  1. The notion of a “summer slide” (students losing ground with their learning over the summer) is real and has been supported by data for years.

  2. The disruption of the pandemic has prompted a reconsideration of so many aspects of PK-12 education, including the organization of instructional time.

  3. The traditional school calendar is, at least in some ways, built for family and community needs from more than 100 years ago.  It’s likely that circumstances have changed and school calendars today call for some reconsideration.

Why am I hearing about this for the first time now?

This concept has been a topic of discussion at our public school board meetings since March 2021.  An initial presentation on the concept was shared with the School Board on March 8, 2021.    Following that presentation, 18 meetings were held with school division employees, leaders of school parent and support organizations, and our business community.  An update regarding this work was shared with the School Board at their work session on July 13, 2021.  In addition, our division has scheduled six different public meetings in September and October to seek additional feedback directly from our community regarding this idea.  We hope you are able to join us to learn more and share your perspective.

What would a balanced calendar look like for Goochland?

The term “balanced calendar” can mean different things.  Our community’s discussions over the past several months have centered on a balanced calendar model that would (1) maintain 180 instructional days, which is the number we’ve had for years, (2) bring the end of one academic year and the beginning of the next academic year a little closer together, and (3) include time for additional opportunities for students in the form of optional “intersessions”.  You can see a depiction of our traditional academic calendar vs. what a balanced calendar could look like here.  

What are “intersessions”?

Intersessions are additional weeks built into the calendar when students may participate in enrichment, academic support, experiential learning, work-based learning, etc.  This additional time would be optional for students and provide experiences outside of the traditional academic year, such as STEM Camp, Fine Arts Camp, SAT prep classes, college visits, etc.  Transportation will be provided, meals will be served, and there will be no charge to families.

How will we staff the intersessions?

Each teacher will be responsible for five intersession days as part of their contractual responsibilities. Teachers interested in working additional intersession days beyond five will be compensated at a rate of $30/hour.  Details regarding specific intercession assignments will be developed this spring should the School Board approve a balanced calendar for the 2022-23 school year.

Most GCPS contracts are 200-day contracts.  Historically, this total number of  work days has been comprised of the following:

180  instructional days

    5  preservice days

    8  teacher professional days

    7  additional days designated as flexible time for other professional responsibilities

200  contractual days

If we move to a balanced calendar, contractual days will be assigned per the following:

180  instructional days

    5  preservice days

    5  intersession days

    3  teacher professional days

    7  additional days designated as flexible time for other professional responsibilities

200  contractual days

Who will lead the development of the intersessions?

We received a significant planning grant to explore alternative instructional calendar models.  As a portion of this funding, the School Board approved the supplemental leadership appointments of four intersession coordinators who will lead the development of intersessions to ensure we are prepared for implementation should a balanced calendar for next year be approved in November/December.  Our intersession coordinators are:

Kelley Taylor, Elementary Intersession Coordinator

Caroline Van Ness, Elementary Intersession Coordinator

Andrea Burton, Middle School Intersession Coordinator

Catherine Richards, High School Intersession Coordinator

Is there a draft of what a balanced calendar could look like for 2022-23?

Yes.  It’s simply a working DRAFT at this point and will continue to be a dynamic document until the School Board approves a calendar for 2022-23, but you can find a DRAFT here.

What are the next steps?

Again, a balanced calendar structure continues to be a discussion and a consideration at this point in time.  Conversations will continue throughout the fall.  You can see the schedule for additional community stakeholder discussions here.

Our School Board is scheduled to consider a 2022-23 calendar recommendation at their November and December regular monthly meetings, with a vote scheduled for December 14, 2021.  In the meantime, our intersession coordinators will be working throughout the year to prepare for the possibility of implementing a balanced calendar next year.

Thank you, again, for everything you do for our school-community.  As always, we are just a phone call or email away.  Stay safe!

Yours In Service,

Jeremy J. Raley, Ed.D.


Stephen Geyer, Ed.D.

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction