NYC’s 2023-24 school calendar delay frustrates families and educators

A colorful ‘Welcome back to school’ sign is posted on a fence in front of a brick building.
New York City’s first day of school is typically the Thursday after Labor Day, but the 2023-24 calendar has not yet been released. Other districts finalized their calendars by March. (Gabby Jones for Chalkbeat)

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Many parents and educators are asking: Why isn’t New York City’s 2023-24 school calendar out yet?

The first day of school is typically the Thursday after Labor Day (which would be Sept. 7). But as families try to plan for the coming year, frustrations are rising without confirmation of opening day or other holidays. 

Last year, the education department released the calendar on May 31. Officials declined to answer questions about when they’ll share the new calendar. 

“The calendar has been pretty static for years now, so I don’t understand what the hold up is,” said Nelli Stoller, a Brooklyn mom of a fifth grader and a ninth grader. Though families can assume the start of school as well as winter break and mid-winter recess, they can’t be certain, she said, and the hold up could make trips more difficult and expensive to plan. 

One thing that’s likely: There will be fewer disruptions at the start of the school year, with the two-day Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah occuring on a weekend. Though the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur will fall on a Monday, Sept. 25. But some questions remain for what spring break in 2024 will look like as Easter falls on March 31, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on April 10, and Passover begins on April 22. 

Before the pandemic, the education department released the calendar much earlier. For the 2018 and 2019 school years, the calendar was posted in April. Prior to that, the calendar had been out in March. 

New York City’s start date is among the latest in the nation, but other districts that start after Labor Day approved their calendars in March, including Newark, Philadelphia, and Boston. Chicago’s calendar for next school year, which starts at the end of August, was finalized in February

The first day of school is based on the teachers union contract. A new contract is currently being negotiated.

Traditionally, teachers use the two days after Labor Day to plan before welcoming their new students. In many other school districts, teachers start much earlier than their students — and some educators here wish that New York City could follow suit, especially as many elementary schools in 15 districts will have to begin implementing new reading programs. 

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“If we had all the money in the world, we would be able to pay teachers to come in a week or two earlier than they do right now … and receive the kind of intense literacy training that they’re all craving,” Darlene Cameron, principal of Manhattan’s STAR Academy, said at a Chalkbeat panel on literacy in August. “It can be challenging to have the amount of time that needs to be dedicated to providing that kind of training, and I think administrators could also use that kind of training and support.”

The state requires 180 instructional days. The city is expected to continue its practice of going remote for snow days, though this year, the lack of snow meant no cancellations.

Amy Zimmer is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat New York. Contact Amy at azimmer@chalkbeat.org.

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