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Reduced Academic Calendar Information

Status of Reduced Academic Calendar Approvals in Colorado

Updated August 2023

One hundred twenty-eight school districts, constituting 72% of the 178 school districts in Colorado, plus three BOCES-operated schools and select schools of the Charter School Institute utilize a reduced academic calendar of fewer than 160 days to organize their school year. Out of 178 total districts, Colorado has a total of 147 small rural and rural districts, with 119 on reduced calendars. Of the 110 small rural districts (less than 1000 students), 101 are on reduced calendars. Of the 37 larger rural districts (1000-6500 students), 18 are on reduced calendars. 

Districts scheduling a school year of 160 days or more need no state approval. Local boards of education annually establish district calendars, but there is no requirement to report or submit calendars to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). Scheduling a school year of more than 160 days is at the discretion of local districts.

The law does require any district offering less than 160 days of school to obtain prior permission from the Commissioner of Education. One of the duties of local school boards is:

C.R.S 22-32-109 (n) (I) To determine, prior to the end of a school year, the length of time which the schools of the district shall be in session during the next following school year, but in no event shall said schools be scheduled to have less than one thousand eighty hours of planned teacher-pupil instruction and teacher- pupil contact during the school year for secondary school pupils in high school, middle school, or junior high school or less than nine hundred ninety hours of such instruction and contact for elementary school pupils or less than four- hundred-fifty hours of such instruction for a half-day kindergarten program. In no case shall a school be in session for fewer than one hundred sixty days without the specific prior approval of the commissioner of education.

All schools must continue to meet or exceed the instructional hours that are required by statute for elementary, middle, and high school schedules. The specific hour requirements are found in Colorado Revised Statute 22-32-109. State Board Rule 1 CCR 301-39, amended in 2012, states that teacher-pupil contact and teacher-pupil instruction means that time when a pupil is actively engaged in the educational process of a district. Each local board of education shall define "educational process," which definition may include any work-study time provided under the supervision of a certificated or licensed teacher but shall not include any time provided for lunch. Each local board of education shall define "supervision of a certificated or licensed teacher" and each local board of education shall define "educational process" which may include passing time in that definition.

Please contact individual districts if there is a desire for specific information.


In 1980, the Colorado legislature allowed districts to pilot alternative schedules. Districts desiring to pilot reduced calendars made application to CDE. The law specified several criteria which had to be addressed prior to approval. An annual report was required. In 1980, three districts were approved for what was referred to as a four-day week. By 1981, twelve districts had been approved.

In 1985, the Colorado legislature changed the required school year from 180 days to 1080 hours. For three years, local districts were no longer required to make applications and receive approval for alternative calendars. No records of local district schedules, calendars, or any alternative school calendars were kept by CDE.

In 1988, the legislature passed a provision that required any district scheduling less than 160 days of school to obtain permission from the Commissioner. In 1990, a formal application process was instituted by CDE.

For the 1990-1991 school year, one additional district adopted a reduced calendar and one district returned to a traditional calendar for a total of 36 districts. For the 1991-1992 school year, 35 school districts were approved to conduct a reduced school year calendar. This was one less district than the previous year because one district scheduled exactly 160 days. For the 1992-1993 school year, 37 districts were approved.

In more recent years, the count of districts may also include a BOCES which operates a school and may also include the Charter School Institute (CSI). CSI first applied and was approved for this calendar for requested schools in the 2012-2013 school year. Not all schools who operate on a reduced calendar of fewer than 160 days are operating on a four-day week.


Learn More:

If you have questions about the Reduced Academic Calendars, please contact Christina Monaco, Executive Director of Field Services and Support, at 303-981-6513 or

If you have technical questions about submissions or directory in Data Pipeline for Requests for Approval, please contact Jessica Tribbett, at