Calendar Committee: 2025-26 Academic Calendar

Thank you to everyone who completed the survey regarding the 2025-26 Calendar Committee survey.  Based on feedback from you and other stakeholders, as well as other considerations, the District Calendar Committee plans to move forward with the recommendation that the Board of Education adopt the calendar that has the first day of school on August 11 and the last day of school on May 29 (this was draft 1 on the survey). https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1oaV7ckU_5gzunT5rqvtuYwJI-7JYFy_b/edit#gid=621121491

Several people asked for clarification about how this draft was developed.  It is clear that many parents remain unhappy with the pre-Labor Day start date.  

The following is a list of guardrails and conditions that the Calendar Committee was asked to consider while formulating the calendar draft.

Guardrails / ConditionsDirected by
180 days in a school year; roughly 90 days per semesterCalifornia Education Code
1st semester ends before Winter Break (see the “Background” section below for more information)Board of Education
All federal holidays are observed. These include Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, MLK Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day.
If a holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, a non-instructional day should be scheduled on the preceding Monday or following Friday (respectively)Attendance data
Indigenous People’s Day is a non-instructional dayBoard of Education
Thanksgiving Break is a week longAttendance data
Winter Break is scheduled for the two weeks inclusive of Christmas and New Year’s Day
Spring Break encompasses or immediately follows Cesar Chavez DayBoard of Education
First day of school is on a MondayAttendance data
Last day of school is on a ThursdayAttendance data
Non-instructional days should not be scheduled in May, which is when state and AP testing occur 

 

This draft is essentially a replication of the 2024-25 academic calendar. Given all of the above, the majority of the decisions regarding the 2025-26 academic calendar flows from two main considerations: 1) that the first semester ends at the Winter Break and 2) the school year is 180 days.  

Working backward from a Winter Break start date of December 22, 2025, taking into account all the requested non-instructional days, and honoring the request that the first day of school be a Monday, scheduling August 11, 2025, as the first day of school is the latest option that sufficiently satisfies all the conditions and guardrails. Similarly, working forward from a Winter Break end date of January 2, 2026, taking into account all the requested non-instructional days, and honoring the request to have the last day of school be a Thursday, scheduling May 29, 2026, as the last day of school is the only option that sufficiently satisfies all the conditions and guardrails. 

Other notes: 

The dates listed above sufficiently satisfy the requirement that the 180-day school year be evenly divided by two semesters.  The first semester will comprise 86 days, and the second semester will comprise 94 days. Trying to add instructional days to the first semester so that the two semesters would both have 90 days while keeping all breaks otherwise the same would require an even earlier first day of school.

March 9 has been scheduled as a non-instructional day in order for the last day of school to land on a Thursday.  March 9 was scheduled by count (i.e., it is halfway between the end of the Presidents’ Day holiday and the start of Spring Break). 

Additional week-long breaks were considered (either by extending Winter Break to three weeks or Spring Break to two weeks or by adding an additional standalone “ski week”). However, community feedback indicated that this would pose a childcare hardship for many working families as well as a potential loss of instructional time for high school students dual-enrolled in community college classes.

ESY/Summer school schedule is not included in this draft. The ESY/summer school schedule for Summer 2026 will be approved by the Board of Education in Fall 2025.

Since the District has not yet experienced a school year that ends in May, there is no available data about whether scheduling the last day of school on the Thursday after Memorial Day will affect attendance for that week.  It is recommended that the Calendar Committee evaluate this data when it becomes available for future academic calendars. 

Background

In 2014, the Board of Education indicated they wanted to align the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) calendar with the community colleges with the ultimate goal of having the first semester end at the Winter Break.  Many parents felt the reasons for this were not clearly communicated, but the advantages of this decision are weighted toward the high school experience. This includes the fact that having the first semester end by Winter Break would give students a true break where no studying or schoolwork would be required for end-of-semester projects or exams. Another reason given was that ending the academic year earlier provides more instructional days prior to standardized assessments such as CAASPP, AP, SAT, and ACT. Also, the change aligns with the community college calendars for students who are dually enrolled and/or attending specific summer programs or college orientations that begin in June.

Because SDUSD is a unified school district, one calendar is adopted for all schools at every education level, whether it is elementary, middle, or high school. 

The traditional academic school year comprises 180 days, with roughly 90 days per semester.  In order for the first semester to end by the Winter Break and still have roughly 90 days, the first day of school would need to be scheduled for sometime in mid-August.  Although most schools followed a traditional school year at the time of this decision, there were several schools in the District that followed a year-round model.  The year-round schools’ schedule made it difficult to adjust the District-wide first day of school to the required mid-August start date.

The 2015-16 calendar was the first where the academic school year began the week before Labor Day.  SDUSD began slowly transitioning year-round schools to the traditional model, phasing out the year-round model a few schools at a time. There were still a handful of schools following the year-round school model when the pandemic forced all schools to shut down in March 2020.  The logistical difficulties of the shutdown made it necessary for the remaining year-round schools to immediately adopt the traditional school model for the 2020-21 school year.  Once all schools were on the traditional model, the Board began in earnest to shift the academic calendar to have the first semester end at the Winter Break.

In January 2022, the Board of Education voted to modify the 2022-23 calendar so that it had a mid-August start date.  Parents protested, and the Board of Education changed it back so that the first day of school remained August 29.  The Calendar Committee decided to slowly transition to the mid-August start date by moving up the start date a week at a time over the following two years.  The consequence was that the first day of school for 2023-24 (the current school year) was August 21, and the first day of school for 2024-25 will be August 12. The 2024-25 school year will be the first one when the first semester ends before Winter Break.

The District needs to draft its academic calendars at least a year in advance to give all bargaining units time to set their staffing and payroll schedules.  This is why the Calendar Committee needed to work on a draft of the 2025-26 school year without being able to experience and evaluate the 2024-25 school year.