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Pleasanton school board set to vote on possible modified calendar

Original post made on Jun 11, 2014

The Pleasanton school board is set to vote on the instructional calendar for the 2015-16 school year in open session at next Tuesday's meeting that will start at 7 p.m. in the district boardroom, 4665 Bernal Ave.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 6:47 AM

Comments (25)

Posted by Leslie K., a resident of Mohr Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 8:14 am

I am very curious to see what the survey says, although I really think it should have been done a lot sooner. I heard the teachers were given the survey a year ago, and were not limited to 4 1/2 days to do it. I admit, I talked to many parents who didnt know about it. I guess it could be said...those parents are not part of social media, maybe that had something to do with it.The phone message was a good idea, although the message was definately in CYA mode.
I spoke to a group of non-English speaking parents & they had no idea either. I imagine a lot of you are thinking..well..thats their problem, they
should speak English, but maybe a written letter should have been sent out, so that at least they could read it, even if they dont have a computer to read emails. I am not sure why they have to decide this in such a hurry. I read that they starting talking about it in October, but the survey was just given last week, and 4 1/2 days is not enough to really look over any research & decide what is best for my children.


Posted by Hart Mom, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Jun 11, 2014 at 8:28 am

We are talking maybe a 0-2 week change in summer with that break time spaced differently through the year. And there was plenty of notification about the proposed change. Summer vaca is plenty long. The kids are itching to go back by week 8 and parents are itching to have them go back.


Posted by Love early start early finish, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 8:41 am

I am really surprised everyone is up in arms over this. I for one am glad something isn't taking 5 years to change! As one who has had kids on both calendars I definitely love the early start/early finish schedule. I don't see what the big deal is starting school 2 weeks earlier and finishing 2 weeks earlier. I could see where the modified schedule would be a problem for many so don't vote for that. As for the communication - I am happy they are even asking for our opinion! It has been talked about for quite a while but I also signed up to receive district emails. Having semester end before Christmas really does help all high school kids not just the 1%. And believe it or not if you have an elementary student they will eventually be in high school!


Posted by Ruthann, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Jun 11, 2014 at 9:35 am

If we really dont have a choice, taking a week away from summer will not be too bad, but that is not what all of the choices are. There are options that will shorten summer by 2 or 3 weeks.
I am weird, in many of your eyes...I am not EVER itching for my kids to go back. I honestly dont even understand that way of thinking. Am I crazy? Am I alone?? No. Rare, but not alone.
I dont join the group of moms that go out to celebrate their kids going back to school, I am with the group that goes to talk about how bummed we are they that summer has ended & our kids are back in school.
I wonder..which group your child would hope you belonged to.


Posted by Aimee, a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 11, 2014 at 9:59 am

I dont know who is more angry, those who do want it or those who dont. I do think more people are against it then we know. A few people I talked to said they don't want it, but are afraid of "going against the Pleasanton grain." So they did not speak up. I read that someone said only 12 people dont want it, that's funny & cant be true. Well..I really dont know, I guess the survey will tell us. Let's just say those 12 are the only ones who were brave enough to go "against the grain," in a town where most people just say... I am ok either way. So kudos to those who were willing to go against the Pleasanton grain! But, "I'm ok either way" & didnt use my real name ;o)


Posted by Elena, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 10:28 am

I've never heard anyone say this is a town of people who are afraid to speak up and go against the grain. In fact I've found it quite the opposite since moving here and when it comes to our school communities, PUSD is an exceptionally involved and vocal community.

I agree with those that think communications starting back on October is more than enough time yet I also agree that less than five days to complete a survey of such importance isn't quite enough time to fully research. Definitely felt like a weak CYA move.

As an informed parent and a parent who completed the survey, what I would really like to see are sample dates versus just "early august" or "late August". Even "1st week" or "2nd week" would have been incredibly helpful in deciding between my two desired options.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 10:56 am

Elena, 3 of the calendar options have August 4th start date, the early start/early finish option has a start date of August 11th. I'm absolutely opposed to any calendar change and most everyone I've spoken to have been of the same view. I think there is definitely more opposition than the Board thinks - the survey results will be interesting.


Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 11, 2014 at 11:35 am

Speaking for myself: It's not the calendar. It's the process.
And if they can't handle this simple process, how am I to believe they are handling Walnut Grove properly? And if these are the things that we do know about, what else is being handled by the same people in the same fashion?
I am tired of scare tactics: They parade out "Modified" (Year "Round School), "Modified Hybrid," and Even "Modified Lite," to scare everybody, so when they adopt "Early Start" they feel better about themselves…
Before they will ever get a parcel-tax passed, they need to earn back the community's trust, and once again they are falling short...


Posted by highdiver, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 5:42 pm

I guess I just don't understand the need to change from the current calendar. Is there any monetary savings at all? Or is this just change for changes sake? I do understand tho, adjusting the winter semester to end before the Christmas holidays, which is an easy fix. Other than that why change? The total instruction days remain at 180 in any event.

Oh, and by the way, I did enjoy watching some of the theatrics that went on during the television replay of the Board meeting, lol.


Posted by Anne, a resident of Castlewood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 9:24 pm

I am surprised that some of you feel the community was well informed. I agree the notice was out there but it was basically asking you to send an email if you had any comments. Any comments about what - 4 vaguely defined calendars? If there had been start dates identified even at the 3 March informational meetings I am sure they would have had a flood of comments. I agree finals before winter break would be great but MANY districts have accomplished this WITHOUT STARTING ON AUG. 4 - Los Gatos/Saratoga (starts Aug 19) Menlo Atherton (starts Aug 19) Los Altos (starts Aug 18) Palo Alto (starts Aug 15) or Menlo Atherton (starts Aug 20). Is this just a ploy to try to fit us into the Brentwood model that was touted at those March meetings?


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 12:24 pm

It's very disappointing that the community was initially presented with unbalanced research, unreasonably stacked from the outset on the side of change, and loaded toward an unproven, perceived, soft benefit to a fractional segment of the overall school population.

Lets go back to a fundamental question that the Board must surely be obliged to answer with hard facts and undisputed information in order to vote in a change of this type: What problem are you trying to solve or what compelling opportunity are you trying to take advantage of? To the outsider, the Board seems to be having a mish mash of conversations laced with assumptions and generalities all of which are contested in a variety of other research studies.

This overarching statement, from Goals for the School District BP0200c: "Each goal shall include measurable standards, performance indicators, and benchmarks that can be used to determine the district's progress toward meeting that goal". The school calendar change has wide ranging impact to the community - surely this basic standard of evidence must also be reached before a proposed change of this magnitude is voted in? The Board should be able to show four things that signify reasonable objectivity in review of the matter:

1. Quantified data showing clear net benefits, and
2. Qualitative information which provides compelling arguments to change to a 'reasonable-person' standard, and
3. That the interests of kids in 13 grade years of schooling are not being lost in the discussion on perceived (unproven) benefits of the kids in the final few years, and,
4. That the Board has the backing of a supermajority (eg 2/3) ie an unequivocal YES coming back from the parent Community to push through a change of this magnitude.

Having avoided the burden of proof headwind to justify any change at all, The Board should step back and continue to see ANY change for what it is - change for change sake - one that is seriously messing with our communities ecosytem. I hope the Board members are not too personally vested in this idea to still look at it objectively.



Posted by another parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm

parent, why in the world should the board have a supermajority 2/3 backing? That is why we are the mess we are in with the lack of parcel tax passing. A majority (over 50%) is sufficient.


Posted by Pick Your Battles Wisely, a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 12, 2014 at 2:32 pm

First- I have no understanding of how someone didn't know about this. If you a.) read your school calendar b.) have visited the PUSD website in the last 12 months c.) attend any PTA/PTO meetings d.) read teacher emails e.) read your school monthly newsletter f.) read the weekly g.) talk to friends... you should have heard of this more than once over the last year. I first heard about it at the end of the 2013 school year and have heard about it MANY times since. Yes. We are all busy. You might not have time to attend school board meetings. You might not be visiting the PUSD website on a regular basis. I get it. But you don't live under a rock and it isn't the PUSD's responsibility to hunt you down and inform you.

Second- no body asked me if I wanted Early/Late start a few years ago. The district just did it. It was what the teachers wanted and it made sense that it was best for the kids in a time when class sizes were large. We all adjusted and for the most part people didn't complain. If you want to get up in arms about something- get up in arms about that! It has been poorly used by some teachers, causes a disruption in the day twice (to accept later gators and to dismiss early birds) etc. Not to mention that the school changes the schedule at the drop of a hat to suit their needs.

People- this takes an hour a day off of their education EVERY day!

I guess this leaves me confused. Why the pass on early/late start change (where they didn't ask your opinion and continue to use for K-2 in spite of CSR for next year), but such a huge fuss on an adjustment to the start/finish date. Why all the demand for input? I mean, maybe. But it strikes me as so odd that so many people are up in arms about this but not about early/late.


Posted by karen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Just a quick note to "parent"
Thank you for such a well written comment!

I have been reading all of the threads on this topic and I appreciate your logic.


Posted by John, a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2014 at 8:23 am

We have been using the modified calendar in Brentwood for years and from what I hear, everyone loves it. Yes the summer vacation is shorter, by a week or two, but you have to understand that the children get two weeks in October and then another two weeks in the spring for breaks. This frees up the time families can take trips during the off summer peak times and gives the children a break from school to decompress. Communities of Brentwood, Livermore and perhaps others are already doing this adjusted calendar and it WORKS people. I realize change is difficult but change for the better is worth look at.


Posted by William, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 9:12 am

The post by "Parent" is the mostly clearly thought out post I have seen on this subject. Neither for, nor against but asking that the School Board;

1. State the problem or unique opportunity this action is meant to address
2. Show clear evidence that the course of action they are choosing is the correct one.
3. Secure the 2/3 or super majority consent of the parent community

Personally, as it stands right now, I am opposed to this change for a variety of reasons. I know other districts have chosen this path, but other than saying it is best for the kids, I have never seen any measurable evidence supporting this argument.

A change like this has massive ramifications for the community of Pleasanton. It appears obvious to me that the school board has not done an effective job of presenting their case.


Posted by ABC, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 9:37 am

I'll echo Jack's sentiment above. It bears repeating, "it's not the calendar. It's the process."
I fear that no matter the outcome, this is just the step they are taking to move us to a year round calendar.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 10:24 am

Just some other thoughts on some of the points heard in the coverage of the Board meetings:

Time shifting scenarios.... intended or not, this now feels like a set up for an inverse bait & switch. Those on the fence get so scared by the worst case calendars that 'could' be imposed on us, that a compromise calendar of a week shifted here, a week there begins to look like a gift instead of the unjustified change and net negative that it is for the community.

The Board has also cited that this change will reduce stress in the last years of High School. Decades of history out there, yet I do not think the Board has been able to show itself or the Community, any persuasive correlation between changing the calendars and reducing stress, and, any further correlation reducing stress to improving exam results. There is even further discussion to a change in school calendars reducing binge drinking? Heady stuff - there must be so many social/ economic factors to binge drinking that are way outside the scope of a school calendar change? To inject my own opinion: date shift the calendar and you will date shift the stress not reduce it.

The Board also says that Dublin (paraphrasing) "....thinking about it and cant wait to see what happens in Pleasanton"- how will they, or more relevantly the Board, know what's happened in any objective way? The Board, and the literature in the public domain, seem in agreement that none of the output can be objectively measured ....surely this cannot and will not be voted in by The Board in any empirical grand experiment at the communities expense, a we'll- suck-it-and-see-if-they-like-it approach?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 1:33 pm

No offense, but to the post above says Brentwood loves a modified calendar, those are not good schools! Go to greatschools.net and see how the high schools in Brentwood do

Pleasanton should not do what school districts that are not considered desirable, do. Prices of homes in Pleasanton vs Brentwood....say it all!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 1:36 pm

No offense, but to the post above that says Brentwood loves a modified calendar.... those are not good schools! Go to greatschools.net and see how the high schools in Brentwood do - not something people want when considering a school district. We should not strive to be like Brentwood! School districts that are desirable like Los Gatos do not have modified calendars.

Pleasanton should not do what school districts that are not considered desirable, do. Prices of homes in Pleasanton vs Brentwood....say it all!


Posted by Marney, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jun 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm

John, I would not call the Livermore calendar "modified". Their high schools went to a trimester system, to align with the rest of our district, a few years ago. Because of that, and having to have 60 days in each trimester, they have put in a four day weekend in October and one in March to allow for teachers to get ready for the new grading period.

They currently start within days of Pleasanton and students got out on Thursday and Pleasanton students got out on Friday. My friends who live there would not say that even with this small change that "everyone loves it."
Many find that the year is somewhat broken up. Believe it or not, breaks break down the consistency of what goes on in the classroom.

I agree with Parent & William! I was so annoyed when I heard the board asking for stats on binge drinking. There is much more than a school calendar that would factor into a teenager making this choice. The district claims the kids are so stressed, yet I know that so many of them are doing much more with their daily lives than just schoolwork. Many are taking college courses on the side, playing sports, taking dance and music lessons, learning foreign languages, etc, etc, etc, etc. So for me, they definitely haven't proven the stress issue.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 16, 2014 at 10:43 am

I give calendar's to a few friends annually. Will the school year be so radically different that a new calendar will have to be designed...BUSTED!


Posted by Mid August -8/15 Start, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jun 16, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Long time Ptown resident w/ kids in the district. I am not in favor of a change, but if they did. The one I would "put up" w/ would be one that started no later than the middle of August i.e. around 8/15 or so each summer. Many problems w/ the early start date of the first Monday in August or a 8/4 start. One, The month of August happens to be probably one of the best months for families to get in a good family vacation. It is the one month w/ the least amount of sports time for kids. Family vacations are just as important as the school time kids take part in. The district of Napa / American Canyon which is as big as Pleasanton went to a Mid August start about 5 years ago. They go 84 days in the first semester and 96 days in the second semester. This year they got out of school on 6/6/14 and will go back around 8/15/2014. Their modified calendar is just one week off from our current calendar and it accomplishes the desired goal of getting the high schoolers first semester completed prior to Christmas (winter) Break. This modified calendar is much more conducive and it still allows families to get in the much needed family vacation time in August each summer. We do not need a week on Ocotober. The week in Thanksgiving is plenty. A week in October would be useless. Almost all families are in the "thick" of their kids youth sports programs in October - you have soccer - flag football - Fall Baseball - CYO Basketball - etc in October. It will a useless week off. Push the board and District Office that if they are going to make a drastic change like they want too - where they are trying to railroad the early start through - that they need to at least do it w/ some commons sense. A Mid August start would be workable w/ a first week in June End.


Posted by shocked parent, a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 23, 2014 at 10:44 am

As a parent of a few Pleasanton students I have to say that this is not something to take lightly as other districts have run a few of these schedules only to modify it then dropped them. I think it is up to the district to take multiple surveys and disclose the info as well as the research on these programs being run in other districts. Lets see the survey before the board votes, and discuss it with the info they should be researching. After seeing the handling of the decision process this board should be released and hold a mid year election to get some competent board members in office. I have only heard of the anger from parents I run into, I'm still waiting to personally meet some parents who are in support of it so I can understand the benefits they see from the change. Not the first time I have seen this board make bad or uniformed decisions.


Posted by shocked parent, a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 23, 2014 at 10:44 am

As a parent of a few Pleasanton students I have to say that this is not something to take lightly as other districts have run a few of these schedules only to modify it then dropped them. I think it is up to the district to take multiple surveys and disclose the info as well as the research on these programs being run in other districts. Lets see the survey before the board votes, and discuss it with the info they should be researching. After seeing the handling of the decision process this board should be released and hold a mid year election to get some competent board members in office. I have only heard of the anger from parents I run into, I'm still waiting to personally meet some parents who are in support of it so I can understand the benefits they see from the change. Not the first time I have seen this board make bad or uniformed decisions.


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