This year school began on Aug. 8.
Back in August of 2015, thousands of parents signed an online petition pleading with the Glendale Unified School District to begin the school year later. For many, the early creep of the first day of school infringed on summer plans and enrichment programs. Besides, it wasn’t that many moons ago when school began after Labor Day in September.
After months of meetings at school sites and the formation of a calendar committee comprised of teachers and parents, the new school year will start on Aug. 16 – a mere six weekdays later than the current start of school.
The new calendar, revealed before the Thanksgiving break, was approved by the school board with a 3-2 vote. The end of the school year will be three days later meaning that the complete school year calendar remains at 43 weeks.
Summer vacation stays at 9 weeks, 4 weeks for those children enrolled in summer school.
So, what was the point of all the machinations of seeking input from all stakeholders and then coming up with basically the same plan that has been in place for the past few years?
That’s what parent Sarah Rush would like to know. She and many others are dismayed that despite the protestation of starting school later, nothing changed.
“It was an overwhelming consensus that our 18,000 families wanted a longer summer and a start date after the third week of August,” Rush said. “If public outcry is unheeded, then all of the meetings were a waste of our time and taxpayer funds.”
Board Member Greg Krikorian who along with President Armina Gharpetian voted against the new calendar sympathizes with those parents who are upset that the start of school wasn’t delayed later.
“We need to put students and parents first,” Krikorian said. “Family time is crucial.”
Rush encourages parents who feel likewise to let their opinions be heard by emailing school board members and attending the Dec. 13 meeting.
Curiously, school districts neighboring Glendale have easily figured out how to plan 180 instructional days that accommodates the wishes of families.
While Burbank schools have pushed the start of school up to mid-August, they have kept the year to 41 weeks due to fewer days off, leaving 11 weeks of summer vacation. Next year Burbank children return Aug. 14 but end May 24 before Memorial Day.
And La Canada schools while providing two additional days of instruction still contain the school year within 42 weeks.
Yet somehow Glendale can’t seem to keep schools open long enough between August and June so that school can start later and end earlier.
While the curious Friday day off before the Labor Day weekend has finally disappeared, the full week off during Thanksgiving does not help to shorten the overall calendar. And as many educators can attest to, ever since GUSD has been closed for a full week, a teacher never quite gets the kids’ attention back since in a few weeks they will be off for nearly three weeks.
Think about this: From Nov. 11 through Jan. 8, amounting to 55 calendar days, students are in school for 21 days, or 38 percent of the time.
Here is how the calendar can quickly be fixed. By eliminating the three days off before Thanksgiving, school could start on Monday, Aug. 21, or end on June 1, cutting the calendar to 42 weeks, providing an additional week of summer vacation.
There. Problem fixed. No meetings needed. A year’s time not required. Less than ten minutes really.
In this space, I have proposed a joint meeting of GUSD and BUSD school board members to see if a common calendar could be agreed upon. That never occurred.
For those parents who feel that their voices are not being considered should keep in mind another calendar, an election one that ends on April 4, 2017. That’s 110 days away—without days off.