The Pleasanton school board is set to vote on the instructional calendar for the 2015-16 school year at a public meeting starting at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the district board room, 4665 Bernal Ave.
The possible calendar change has brought out many differing opinions from parents, students and community members - some in favor for change while others prefer the traditional calendar. In addition, some parents are upset the school board has not effectively communicated with parents about the possible change.
"I feel like you're trying to slide this under us," said Pleasanton Middle School parent Tracy Whelan at the June 3 school board meeting.
Parent Peter Balas echoed her statement, saying that he never received anything that indicated the school board was looking at changing the calendar, and only found out about it through a friend.
However, a Pleasanton parent that asked to remain anonymous said, "Those parents have to be out of the loop to not know about the change. This has been in talk since October. There were forums and emails about the calendar options, and all the information is online."
Due to a high demand from parents, the district sent out a parent survey regarding the proposed calendar options on June 4, and the results will be presented in open session at Tuesday's meeting, according to Pleasanton school superintendent Parvin Ahmadi.
The survey asked parents to share their views on the calendar options and to rank which calendar they most prefer.
Although parents are happy the board agreed to send out a survey, some parents feel the decision on which calendar to use is being rushed.
"So much is already going on in the district, I don't know why they're trying to throw another log in the fire," said Pleasanton Middle and Amador Valley parent Kelly Schroeder.
Proposed calendar options
According to the calendar committee's May 27 presentation, discussions of non-traditional calendars, formally and informally in the past, had increased and the committee began to consider exploring different calendar options.
The calendar committee's initial question when they started discussing a possible calendar modification was if there was "an alternative or modified calendar that would better meet the academic and social-emotional needs of the students" the Pleasanton school district serves.
The non-traditional calendar options being looked at include an "early start, early finish" calendar and three modified calendar options.
The "Early Start/Finish" calendar is similar to the traditional calendar except school starts and ends earlier, and the first semester will end before winter break instead of in January.
Walnut Grove fourth graders in Mrs. Lim's class were grouped into the calendar options of their choice and wrote about how their chosen option was the best for them.
One group stated, "Early Start/Finish is the best option for our families because it is closest to the traditional calendar that we have been used to, and we still get enough weeks for summer."
The "modified" calendars schedule school to start in late July or early August and end in late May or early June, the first semester to end before winter break, along with an October break and shorter summer break.
These calendar options offer academic advantages to students, according to director of human resources Mark McCoy.
With the first semester ending before students go on winter break, students' stress level would reduce because winter break would be a "genuine break" from school. However, most Advanced Placement students and high school seniors would still be busy with studying or college applications during break.
According to Amador senior Chloe Connolly, even though students wouldn't truly be on a break, they would be able to spend all their time on studying or college applications - which is difficult to do with the current school calendar.
Balas said he believes these calendar options are only to accommodate the "1% academic elite."
In addition, the calendar presentation stated a short summer could lessen the learning loss in students.
"The radical schedule will mean that the remaining 99% of the students in the district will be thrown under the bus and lose a big chuck of their summer vacation and family time," Balas added.
The calendar committee has pointed out in their presentation that some of the other challenges with a modified calendar include increased childcare expenses for non-resident staff members, scheduling conflicts with youth organizations, extra-curricular activities being affected, and temperature and air quality concerns.
Many parents have shown support for keeping the traditional calendar, which has school starting in late August and ending mid-June with a 10-week summer break.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," said Pleasanton parent Pauline Thomas.
Ahmadi said she hopes people understand that every calendar option will have its pros and cons, and it will vary from person to person.
"There is no option that will work for everyone," she said.
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