Board members discussed the two proposed calendars for the next school year Wednesday and kicked the can down the road to their Sept. 26 meeting, giving time for teachers, parents and students to have another shot at influencing the decision.
Version A, which is nowhere near the traditional calendars of bygone days, has a start date of Aug. 11, 2014, with the last day of school May 20, 2015. Version B, inching closer to the “balanced” calendar, begins classes Aug. 4 and ends school also on May 20. However, with the earlier start, Version B includes a week’s break Oct. 6-10, 2014.
This year, per the calendar on the district’s website, school started Aug. 7 and ends May 28 with various breaks including combinations of staff furloughs and student holidays, the first on Oct. 3-8, fall holidays Nov. 25-29, winter holidays Dec. 23-Jan. 6, staff furloughs/Presidents Day Feb. 13-18, Spring holidays March 31-April 4.
So apparently, the proposed Version B is closer to the current calendar which would make one side of the debate happy and, of course, dismay the other side still clinging to the hope for a somewhat traditional calendar with more vacation time for the kids and other arguments for a later start date. But the thinking on the school board has morphed from the days when candidates actually ran on promises of voting for a later start date. It seems those days are gone, probably forever, given the trend in education circles in favor of earlier starts and more breaks.
Now the board members, including Chairman Randy Scamihorn, say they have no preference. Neither does Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who says he just wants to pick a calendar and stick with it from now on. Along that line, after talking it over with Scamihorn, the superintendent said he decided against going through the pointless exercise of appointing a committee to come up with recommendations – even if the committee had more school district employees than parents and people from the community. As Scamihorn observed, the committee was divided on every vote, no doubt reflecting public opinion.
Scamihorn, however, did say that he’s learned from visiting schools that teachers want a calendar with a fall break, which Version B presumably provides. If that’s the case, it seems he would be inclined to go with Version B. As for a no-change calendar, elections can change things, experience to the contrary notwithstanding. The current board’s decisions won’t be binding on future boards. But the early start date trend won’t likely be reversed.
If the Aug. 4 start date is adopted, what next? The camel’s nose and neck are in the tent regarding early start dates, or a “balanced” calendar. Will it get all the way in with year-round school?