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Late holiday school break for Pleasanton schools causing problems for some

Original post made on Dec 15, 2011

Parents of Pleasanton school kids will have to wait a little longer than usual to dash off to grandma's house for Christmas.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, December 15, 2011, 7:09 AM

Comments (58)

Posted by xmasfun, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2011 at 8:22 am

Why does it "HAVE" to be a Friday that schools close on - it would have made more sense to finish mid week and start back mid week, still getting the two weeks off. It would make life easier for families who are traveling distances to get to their families - they wouldn't have to make the trip on Christmas Eve or a Friday evening when traffic is a nightmare anyway.

Posted by Tina, a resident of Mission Park
on Dec 15, 2011 at 8:25 am

I love the schedule. It gives me more time to get that shopping done before the kids are
out of school, and then we have an entire week to be together after the holiday is over.

Posted by a Neighbor, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Dec 15, 2011 at 8:32 am

This school break is terrible. Very inconsiderate. No during the week Christmas parties or visits to relatives. No time before Christmas to shop with my kids during the day because they still have homework in the evenings and one has a science project). No time to wrap presents together, no time to bake cookies and now I have to take a precious week of work off the first week of the year to be home with them. Whoever agreed to this must not have school age kids. Very inconsiderate. What about the teachers? When do they get to do their shopping and baking and wrapping! Must have been a man who agreed to this.

Posted by C Edward, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 15, 2011 at 8:37 am

It's a blessing for families that ski.

Posted by Barry, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 15, 2011 at 8:57 am

It's a bad move by the district because families that have to travel will pull their kids from school, at least on Friday and possibly Thursday, and the schools will lose out on all that money.

Posted by ccwc, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Dec 15, 2011 at 8:58 am

All you parents that are whining - this is called ..... LIFE. Get used to it - it isn't always fair! Move on!

Posted by rmrm, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 15, 2011 at 9:12 am

I agree with ccwc. If this is the biggest problem in your life, you are very lucky. The season is supposed to be about peace and joy, not presents.

Posted by Jill, a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Dec 15, 2011 at 9:23 am

"the financial impact for families who have to arrange an extra week of child care"

I don't get this. There's no "extra" week in January--school is out for two weeks, just as it always is. What difference would it make, financially, if you have to cover childcare next week versus the first week of January?

Parents' vacation time might be trickier, since I know that some companies don't allow employees to roll over vacation days from one year to the next (mine does, thankfully).

Posted by Frosty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2011 at 9:28 am

This has become standard procedure in the Tri-Valley. Livermore and Dublin stick Pleasanton in the eye at every opportunity.

On the other hand, school district administrations are notorious prima donnas. It wouldn't occur to them to schedule a short conference call to agree on school calendars for the Tri-Valley. They each think they are the emperors of their domain.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2011 at 9:34 am

I like this schedule. We can now go skiing the first week of january, thus avoiding the christmas/new year crowd.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Birdland
on Dec 15, 2011 at 10:15 am

I teach in Pleasanton and have a child who attends school in Dublin. That is where I have a problem figuring out where my child can go while I am work and they are on break! But on the other hand, I will have a week where she goes back to school and I have some quiet time before going back to the classroom. So maybe it isn't that bad after all!

Posted by really?, a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 15, 2011 at 12:04 pm

We're just taking our kid out on Friday for traveling. And spending a fortune for airline tickets. Skiing's about Christmas and being together with family, whether they are near or far. Could care less about school losing money; poor choice of dates, period. Christmas is December 25th, for those who don't know.

Posted by Huh, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm

It's not as if the district JUST decided on these dates for 'winter' break. (sigh)

Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Dec 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm

A week at Thanksgiving and two weeks off three weeks later doesn't strike me as the soundest educational management.

How about making all these special holidays flat 3-day weekends instead of week-long Binge-O-Ramas?


Posted by Lisa, a resident of Birdland
on Dec 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm


Posted by ptown used to be, a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Some of you people complaining should just stop for ONE second and THINK...

Is whining about "when"/"if" you are able to bake cookies with grandma, schedule convenient travel, blah, blah, blah...really necessary??!! After reading some of the posts to this topic, I'm almost glad that I'm no longer living in what can seem to be such a shallow, self-centered, whiny community of idiots! Be glad you get ANY days off at all. You could be living in another state where the schools barely get 10 days off starting on Dec. 23 and returning back to school on Jan. 3. It is what it is, make the BEST of it. In the end, YOU can schedule when you want to go and when. Don't let having your kids' missing school stop you from doing what you think is what you need to do. It doesn't seem to bother all of those families who take off to Disneyland anytime during the school year' What the heck, the work they miss will be there when you return.

Posted by holidays, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Thanksgiving break should just be Thurs and Fri - just like San Diego State gives. Less interruption to classes and push on through academically.

Then schools could be let out on Fri the 16th or Tues the 19th and return Monday the 9th of January.

That would give a true Winter Break - (12/20 - 12/28 this year) Hanukkah, (12/12) Christmas and (1/7) Ephiphany - break for Jews, Roman Catholics and Christians from that tradition, (Jan 7) and Coptics/Orthoodox.

Posted by Mom O2, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2011 at 7:39 pm

All points are good and valid... the holidays are about spending time with family doing whatever is important to you--shopping, baking or skiing. What strikes me is that these particular dates are ripe for extremely high absence rates on Thursday/Friday. The last few years parents have been hammered by the district about not removing kids from school unless absolutely necessary due to the cost to the school. Instead of sticking to 'the last Friday' rule, they could have had some foresight, chosen differently and had a much better financial outcome in the end.

Posted by This community is crazy, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Dec 15, 2011 at 9:25 pm

First people complain that there's too much homework, now they complain about holiday dates because they need to take their children on vacation.

Do we really need to question why Asian countries have better prepared students? Don't complain if the test scores go down.

Posted by Rulanda, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Dec 15, 2011 at 11:00 pm




Posted by Moahn, a resident of Castlewood
on Dec 15, 2011 at 11:04 pm

For all of you complaining about Xmas vacation-I think you are the same ones that the first day of summer vacation, xmas vacation, spring break-you send your kids to the library to study. If you want to spend time with your kids-take them shopping instead.

Posted by Tricia, a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 15, 2011 at 11:06 pm

No wonder people outside of Pleasanton think you parents are nuts! You complain over minuscule problems as if it is the end of the world! If spending time with your children is so important, do it year round, not just around the holidays!

Posted by Mrs. shopalopadropdingdong, a resident of Canyon Oaks
on Dec 15, 2011 at 11:08 pm

You Pleassanton people are so spoiled-what about kids that go to school year round? wonder how they feel.

Posted by Frank, a resident of Amador Estates
on Dec 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Oh, for the love of all that is holy. Do parents here ever stop? Complained over Tales from Swankville, complained over drug sniffing dogs at the high schools, and now complaining about your children being in school? Of COURSE the Catholic schools are going to have different holiday schedules, is that honestly anything shocking? What's next? A Rabbinical School having a different schedule?

There is plenty of time for you to make time to be with your family despite the oh-so-horrid break schedule which you have known about since the beginning of the school year.

You should all be ashamed. You are never pleased. When you are busy complaining about a perfectly fine schedule, keep in mind in other parts of the country and world, there are children wishing they could attend school at all.

Posted by Mrs. B, a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 16, 2011 at 6:57 am

Let's return this thread to the original subject.


I agree with many others, the lack of break before Christmas sucks. To begin with, it really cuts into family time. Not just about the skiing, or the vacation, but the time where everyone gets together to get excited about the season.

I think those of us that have a vested interest in community post like this should simply ignore the inflammatory haters.

I am all for starting school after Labor Day and ending it the first week of June. School should start at 8 in the morning and end at 4 in the afternoon.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 16, 2011 at 7:55 am

Mrs B, many have tried to build that schedule. Children have to have 180 days of instruction (insufficient by world standards). The preference is for two even semesters, 90 days each (although it doesn't often happen). Now sit down with a calendar and try to get winter break, spring break, all the other holidays, testing, finals, etc. By the way, high school interests and elementary level interests do not coincide. It's not that easy.

Posted by Carl, a resident of Amador Estates
on Dec 16, 2011 at 9:35 am

Have any of the complainers thought about cutting back their children's competiitive soccer or dance schedules to spend more time with Grandma and continuing family traditions?

Posted by Joe, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Dec 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm

2 comments: 1.) Frank -couldn't have said it better myself, 2.) As background, the district opted to a full week at Thanksgiving due to lost revenue caused by parents taking kids out of school for the entire week instead of just Thurs/Fri (which kind of shows where the priority or family vacation?) and this choice of a childs education vs fun family time obviously still challenges a number of parents in Pleasanton.

Posted by Mrs. B, a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm


Education should be based on hours in the classroom, not days. I know it currently is not. Kids today spend less actual time in a classroom learning basic education skills than they did in the 60's. There were no such things as "in service " days a generation ago. The classroom teacher taught basic art skills twice a week. PE was everyday. Lunch was an hour long and you had two 20 minute recesses. Music was once a week, unless you were in the band or choir, then it was after school. School started at around 8 and ended around 4. ( depending on the school district and the agricultural influence in the area) Back when educational professionals set the schedule's, curriculum and standards, our countries K to 12 program was top rung on the ladder. Now, we allow politicians, public opinions and teachers unions to set such things, and we are barley keeping up with other countries. California is dismal for K to 12 education.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Mrs B, talk to teachers. You are a bit behind on what is occurring in classrooms today. And minutes do count now. 8-4 isn't the only solution we need and maybe not even the. Ezt solution. Tell me if you can get 180 days or the minutes required on the calendar you propose.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Sorry, "not even the best solution."

Posted by Enough Already, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Dec 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Is there anything Swankers do not or will no COMPLAIN about?

If you all are SO against every little thing, every little issue in Pleasanton, or California, this Country, the Government...

GTFO.. Move to whatever city or Country you feel will suit you better!

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm

EA, to whom aree you directing your comment? It would help those just talking about the calendar, not when the break falls. I'm not upset about the late date and am trying to point out how difficult it is to set that calendar. Thanks much!

Posted by Enough Already, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Dec 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm

KR I unnderstand your contributions...

I don't understand the general TONE, the whining and complaining, the mentality on the P Weekly Forum in general.


Posted by Mrs. B, a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm


I am very OK with you not agreeing with me. My solution is only one option. I confidently stand by it. I am not behind on what is occurring in classrooms today, believe me. I very present in the learning environment, very. This thread is about schedule's. Not about what hampers the teachers of today. Might make an interesting post/thread if you want to start it.

My point is....get back to actual hours of learning time, not days in the classroom. Reconstruct a traditional school calendar for happier families and teachers. Allocated School Instruction Time vs Allocated Class Time. Check out an essay by a man named Rice on the erosion of instruction time in the classroom.

Posted by Too busy to complain, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Dec 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Those outside of Pleasanton. Please do not assume all or most of the Pleasanton parents/adults are like those on these boards. Many of us, don't have any miniscule issues. We are too busy working and raising our kids to have time on these boards. Having lived in other countries, and gone through their education system, not is all perfect with their systems either. I'm just glad my husband and I have jobs, our kids have a good school with caring teachers to go to, and we live in a country with many luxuries most of the world will never even know, let alone have.

Happy Holidays everyone - whichever holiday you celebrate.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I wonder what percentage of students will be absent from school on Friday 23 December. I'm sure it's going to be high. The lack of funding for that particular day can be blamed on the district for choosing to have school that day. Couldn't they have finished Wednesday 21 and gone back to school January 5 - midweek to midweek. Makes sense to me.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm

EA, I understand the frustration, so I guess I read around the whine. I hear you though.

Mrs B, we definitely disagree. Read the staff reports in Palo Alto. Or view the meetings; last year.

Posted by BettyLou, a resident of Castlewood
on Dec 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Can't wait till Tales from Swankville sequel comes out.

Posted by One of "those" teachers from another district, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Joe - You're spot on about the Thanksgiving week. Districts went to the whole week off so they wouldn't lose as much ADA because parents were taking students out for the entire week.

resident - If the break was mid-week to mid-week, parents would take students out of school either the first few days or the last few or both. It doesn't matter when the days off are, parents will take students out because it "doesn't fit" their plan.

Mrs B - As a child of the 60's and a teacher of today, expectations of teachers are not what it use to be. It's all about test scores. The only "important" subjects are math and english. There is no time for much else. The demand for "accountability" has resulted in the test scores as the measure of all. There is a push that THE measure of teacher performance is the results of a 3 or 4 day multiple choice test.

Also, remember this Winter Break, not Christmas Vacation.

Posted by casey, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Dec 16, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Mike of Highland Oaks made the point I had heard earlier this week when speaking with a teacher at Amador - this teacher said that the week off/three weeks in class/two more weeks off is not conducive to good education. Since we pride ourselves in the schools in Pleasanton, we should applaud and back the administration for this schedule (which sticks to historic patterns ignored by the neighboring districts.)

With 15 days of "winter holiday", starting the 23rd would give families an opportunity to have their own family celebration, and then extend the holidays by then visiting distant relatives, or other travel/vacation arrangements. Or are those complaining just not capable of some intimate family time - with just their family?

And for those Christians, Christmastide starts with the 12 days of Christmas (from Christmas Day through Epiphany - Jan 6) until February 2. Lots of time to celebrate the holidays!

Posted by Mom if two, a resident of Golden Eagle
on Dec 17, 2011 at 3:51 am

I'm not overly concerned what dates the break occurs, but if I had one wish it would be for ours to be the same as Livermore and Dublin only because mine love to spends as much time as possible with cousins that live in Dublin and Livermore. We always try to take an extended family trip to Tahoe over the holidays so not being on the same schedule will just make this a little harder to coordinate if we can even pull it off. I do wonder if there are tit for tat games between these districts since this has never come up as long as I can remember. If this us the case, it's pretty silly.

No need to lose sleep over it though. Just enjoy having them home when you do and remind yourself how lucky those of us with healthy kids are to have them at home. Think of the families who would give everything to spend one day at home with a child that is sick and/or fighting a serious illness. I'm sure they'd do anything to be dealing with our little scheduling problems if it meant having theirs home.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Posted by Middle School Teacher and parent, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Dec 17, 2011 at 6:02 am

It never boggles my mind how this community has only negative comments to direct towards PUSD. What are you parents, who are complaining about scheduling, going to do when you have some of your kids in college and still in PUSD? Are you going to call their deans of student affairs and complain to them about the inconvenience of the scheudles, breaks, homework, tuition costs, senior thesis (the list is endless)?

Let us remember what the season is about and what you are really complaining about? Traveling schedules, really? When you have health, prosperity and your children to hug on a daily basis, everything else is gravy.

As a teacher, I would encourage families to share as much of this precious time off together, regardless of travel plans, and get reacquainted and get to know one another again on more intimate basis. Your own family unit is more important than anything else you have planned for this time off.

I have the privilege of being your child's teacher for a fleeting moment while in my classroom. My hope is to inspire, motivate, and create independent learners who are creative problem solvers. Please support my efforts and not thwart them. Read with your children regardless of their age and talk do not text. Talk about their dreams and goals. Be a positive role model.

Enjoy the season.

Posted by Mrs. B, a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 17, 2011 at 6:42 am

One of "those" teachers....

As I stated to Kathleen...this thread began because of concerns over the pending break. I think it would be very interesting and powerful to have a new thread/post about what is wrong with the education system in California. I do understand that teachers today are rarely allowed to practice their craft and truly teach what needs to be learned. Education professionals are not allowed to run the education system. Politicians and their financial backers do. I really, really do get it.

Posted by Elliot Ness and LPFD and paramedic, a resident of Birdland
on Dec 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm

to all complaining about the school schedule and getting out so late-I just want to wish all you Swankville people Merry Christmas. wow have heart-some of us wish we can take off but have to work. I for one am working christmas eve and day protecting Swankville. so quit your copmpaining-

Posted by ccwc, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Dec 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm

To Rulanda..... WHITEPEOPLEPROBLEM ???? Really?? I want to say sooo much more here about that to you!

Posted by Pro-Law, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Simple solution:

Parents can make their own schedules for their children. Parents that feel it is cutting into family time can call the school and tell them your child will be missing school for personal reasons. It is an excused absence. Problem solved.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Pro-Law, I don't think there are excused absences anymore, not even sick days or doctor appointments. Do you have something that states otherwise? It would be interesting to know that. I seem to recall that schools ask for some daily amount per child ($25 or more?) as a donation for the lost revenue.

Unfortunately, a day lost is a day lost for students--you can't really make your own schedule. It's not as if you can show up on some unscheduled day and say you want someone to teach your child. I realize parents do have to make those decisions, but I'm fairly certain revenue is lost on top of the instruction.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

There are excused absences but they don't count towards ADA so the school loses funding for that day. ADA funding is a real crime in California. I understand it prevents schools from inflating their enrollment, but it isn't like a student who is out for a week means one less teacher is needed for the whole school year.

Posted by Pro-Law, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2011 at 1:53 am


Excused absences are written into law under the Education Code (see section 48205) and schools can not opt out. Not sure where you heard excused absences aren't allowed anymore. You are correct on schools losing money even on days when kids use excused absences.

The section I refer to is "justifiable personal reasons" under subsection 7 - which is pretty vague (By the time they fight you on what "justifiable personal reasons" means your kid will be in college). I would just leave a message each morning on the attendance answering line and say your son/daughter "John Smith won't be in today for personal reasons".

If the schools don't like the truth you can always lie and say they are sick. They don't need to know specifics. If they press you for a note, say you don't have the money to get a doctor's note and you don't think the sickness will rise to the level of paying for one. I'm not aware of any Education Code section that says you must get a note - especially since that isn't free. Hopefully they just appreciate the truth though? The same section also says schools must provide students with a chance to finish all assignments and tests in a reasonable time for full credit.

By the way, I was being sarcastic on parents setting their own schedules. What I was getting at was parents can just call in excuses if they need to get their children out a couple days early to see relatives and/or save money on a trip. Look at the code - I'm sure you can find something that applies.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 20, 2011 at 8:10 am

Pro-law and Stacey, Thank you for the explanation. I'm guessing the distinction between excused absences with no funds and non-excused absences with no funds is being eligible to do makeup work for the student.

Posted by Drexl, a resident of Ironwood
on Dec 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Our school will lose money on our kids, we are taking them out for one day, thought about two. As for impact on Education, well, spending that extra day with Grandma will teach them more than a week in school.

As for money for school, this will teach the district a lesson in planning, you do not have school on day before a family holiday that requires travel. And for school to get money, have to be 5 consecutive days off.

Posted by Drexl fan, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Well said, Drexl. However one slight correction -- You said "As for impact on Education, well, spending that extra day with Grandma will teach them more than a week in school." Is it just a week? How about three weeks? :-)

Posted by Heather, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Dec 22, 2011 at 8:23 am

Dumbest move ever. There are so many kid's at my son's school that are absent this week because of holiday travel to see family and our school district is losing money because of it. Who decided this? They should be canned.

Posted by What about other religions?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2011 at 8:42 am

I really don't care when the break is, but I too wish there was better communication between PUSD and other Tri-Valley school districts to be on the same break schedule. I would at least for the winter and spring breaks. My thought is since we are to be accepting of all religiions, it would have been good to have it this week because of Hannukah. We have so many Monday (holidays) off in January and February, I don't see why school districts reinstate some of those and give off other religions major holidays.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 22, 2011 at 9:30 am

School calendars are negotiated with teachers' unions; it is part of their contracts. District staff usually proposes considering semester schedules, holidays, testing, etc. They do try to look at what other districts are doing in the area.

You can follow a lengthy discussion that occurred in Palo Alto regarding a change to the calendar Web Link If you start with that September 28, 2010, report and then look for follow up reports for that school year Web Link you will see how staff tried to cover the interests of the community and instruction. The actual board meeting discussions are on line (and indexed so you don't have to watch parts you aren't interested in).

Posted by Positive teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Today, the last day of school before the vacation, I had 100% attendance. I commend these students for their great behavior, respect in class, and hard work all week. I appreciate the parents of my students as well for encouraging this great attitude. The volunteers know that this was not a play week, but one full of great learning experiences. I'm sorry that so many find the need to criticize and judge, especially when so many are working so hard.

Posted by High School teacher, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Though I didn't have 100% attendance, the absences from my classes were minimal. I was missing about 2 kids per class which is typical on any given day. We had a fun day and managed to learn, too. Way to go Falcons!

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