News


Calendar change survey goes before school board tonight

Naming new board president and VP, hiring new coordinator and directors, and budget update also on agenda

Parents, teachers, students and other stakeholders may be able to have their say in how -- and whether -- Pleasanton's public schools should adjust their instructional calendar.

The Pleasanton Unified School District board will be presented with the proposed survey questions at its public meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at district headquarters on Bernal Avenue.

The survey will address if the district should adjust its instructional calendar -- whether by shortening the summer break, altering vacations or through other variations.

The issue of making changes to the instructional calendar caused tension in the district over the past couple years, and Pleasanton Unified decided in January to take a step back and begin a calendar committee to research the issue further before implementing schedule changes.

The survey questions to be proposed Tuesday are a result of work done by that calendar committee, which includes district staff, students and other stakeholders.

Questions on the proposed draft survey include, "In your opinion, how well does the current PUSD calendar fit students' academic, social and emotional needs?" and "How open are you to a change in the current PUSD calendar?"

If the board decides to move forward with the survey, the questions will be sent out on Wednesday to as many stakeholders as the district can reach, interim assistant superintendent of human resources Dianne Howell said.

"We're really going to try to blast it out everywhere we can," she said.

Students in grades 8-12, managers, Association of Pleasanton Teachers members and California School Employees Association members will receive the survey via email, families will get the survey via the electronic newsletter E-Connection and the survey will be posted on the Pleasanton Unified's website, Howell said.

In addition, the district plans to use its auto-dialer system to remind families to fill out the survey, and it expects to send postcards home to families as an additional reminder. Howell also said there are plans to put a reminder in the PTA newsletter.

The school calendar has been on the front burner for many in the Pleasanton school community since 2014.

The school board that June approved switching to a modified lite calendar for 2015-16 that scheduled school to begin early August and end late May. The calendar also included a one-week break in October, the first semester ending before winter break and a nine-week summer break.

But the board rescinded that calendar plan in January 2015 amid criticism from some residents and new board member Mark Miller, who was elected in November 2014.

The district opted to revert back to the traditional calendar for 2015-16 and allow time for more public debate on potential future changes. The traditional calendar has school starting in late August and ending in mid-June, the first semester ending in January and a 10-week summer break.

Howell said if the calendar survey is approved by the board and distributed next week, she plans to have analysis on the community's thoughts available for the board by January.

A proposed timeline for the measure will also be presented and discussed at Tuesday's board meeting.

In other business Tuesday

* A new board president and vice president will be elected by the board during the first part of the meeting as part of the board's annual reorganization. Current board president Valerie Arkin and vice president Chris Grant will hand over the reins to the new president and vice president.

The annual organizational meeting will cover several agreements and permissions -- such as allowing the superintendent and cabinet-level employees to sign contracts approved by the board -- selecting representative to regional decision-making groups and deciding whether county and state resources can be utilized for competitive bid processes.

The regional groups that will be appointed a Pleasanton Unified representative include the South County Transportation Group Joint Powers Board of Directors, the East Bay Schools Insurance Group and the Tri-Valley Special Education Local Plan Area.

* The board is also expected to announce a new director of technology, a new director of adult and career education and a new coordinator of communications and community engagement, who acts as the district's media spokesperson.

The district was searching for a new director of technology after Chris Hobbs resigned this fall to take a job in Union City and was searching for a new spokesperson after Nicole Steward resigned to take a job at Milpitas Unified School District.

The director of adult and career education appointment is the result of the district restarting its adult education courses after mostly closing them after the recession.

* Board members will also hear a presentation about the most recent budget update. The updated total district expenditures will be $145.8 million, up from $130.6 million at the last budget update, and the updated revenue will be $145.7 million -- up from $138.1 million.

* Closed session runs from 5-7 p.m. at the district's headquarters on Bernal Avenue, the annual organizational meeting begins at 7 p.m. and the regular board meeting will begin afterward, according to the district's board meeting agenda.

Comments

23 people like this
Posted by Jill
a resident of California Reflections
on Dec 3, 2015 at 10:46 am

Enough with the calendar issue we as Pleasanton citizens made it clear we don't want a Calendar change that's why we voted for Mark


97 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Dec 3, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Why can't finals be before the holidays? Doesn't this ruin the holidays for all the high school students for 4 years? The holidays should be a time to spend with family, some travel far to be with them and the school district wants them to be studying during that time. Maybe someone can explain how this makes sense.


34 people like this
Posted by PUSD is a mess
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2015 at 1:13 pm

No one should have to go to school starting the first week of August. Pleasanton Unified with all of its minimum days (whoever heard of minimum days anyway before arriving in PLeasanton) just needs to get serious and cut out all of the ridiculous minimum days in order to make the school year shorter.

The real reason for the so-called calendar change is to give students time in January to be involved in all sorts of competitions that Pleasanton gets good press for.

Also no one can explain to me why elementary schools in Pleasanton run on a trimester basis and middle schools and high schools run on semesters/quarters basis.

Just change all the schools to trimesters and the problem is solved.

Or PUSD should focus on education instead of running the students around in various idiotic competitions at the high school level.


23 people like this
Posted by Bay Area Native
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2015 at 2:51 pm

When I was growing up, school started after Labor Day, we had two days off for Thanksgiving (Thurs/Fri), and school ended in mid-June. Everyone was very happy with that school calendar. It worked, plain and simple. Are there reasons why we can't have such a calendar? If there are downsides, I'd like to understand what they are.


14 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 3, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

This all has been debated before in other districts, many that have moved to a modified calendar. The desire to move finals to before the winter break is good for most . . . although there is a difficult year for high school when also applying for college. Palo Alto, and others, moved to an earlier start in August (but not the first week), end in May, and have tried to have at least one day off in each month where possible. They do not take the entire week of Thanksgiving, a trade off for winter break, but my guess is there would be a preference for those traveling during the winter break. Depending on the year, there can be a problem at Memorial Day that pushes school into first days of June. Both high schools have also moved to block scheduling (something I think that is even more important than the calendar).

All of this is available on the pausd.org web site. Try the first four links: Web Link

Here is this year's calendar: Web Link

Here is 2016-17 calendar: Web Link

You can view the Board meetings here (going back to 2007): Web Link (more recent): Web Link

Surely the committee looked at PAUSD and other districts, and I applaud the intention to widely broadcast the survey and the results.


15 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

To "Jill": You are correct when you say Mark was elected on a platform of anti-calendar change. But you are wrong when you say "we as Pleasanton citizens made it clear we don't want a Calendar change that's why we voted for Mark", because the Pleasanton citizens also voted for incumbent Joan Laursen who was - and I presume still is - in favor of a calendar change. In fact, Joan beat Mark by over 1200 votes (over 3.5%), leading me to believe calendar was not the most important topic for voters, otherwise Joan would not have won her seat back.

To "Pleasanton Parent": The desire to move finals to before the holiday/Christmas break is the top driving force behind a possible calendar change. I agree with you that having finals before break makes more sense. Every college that I know of, save one, does it this way.

To "PUSD is a mess": Many schools start in early August, and even July. Here's an interesting (and fairly short) article about this: Web Link

To "Bay Area Native": I too started school after Labor Day, but there was less school days then, 180 compared to 185, I believe. Gotta put those days somewhere.




13 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 3, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Why bother? They'll get the results. A minority will squeal bloody murder, and it will be shoved aside again.


3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 3, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

GtF, it's currently 180 learning days and has been at least back to the 80s if not longer. There are districts with up to 185+ teacher days, but they are non-student days for prep, grading, staff development, etc.


13 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Yes, you are right, 180 student days. I think that is an increase from when I went to school, but I don't know the amount of days PUSD had back then. I do know the three student days removed from Thanksgiving week contributed to the length of the school year.

I found this article interesting: Web Link
Listed are 45 districts, I assume picked randomly. 28 of them start in the first two weeks of August. Only one starts after Labor Day, and only three start after the day PUSD started this year.

I believe a calendar change in PUSD is inevitable. I say we embrace the change, and find the best compromise schedule and move forward.


3 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 3, 2015 at 8:20 pm

All for a calendar change, but it needs to be to a year round school year.


2 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2015 at 8:25 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Doubt that will happen, there is a vocal minority against ANY change, no way will year round school fly in this district at this point.


Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 3, 2015 at 9:39 pm

Fine, maybe I'm ignorant to Pleasanton's agricultural community and the huge impact this has. Meanwhile for the rest of us interested, seems like a perfect charter school candidate. How do you get that moving?


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 3, 2015 at 9:58 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pleasanton Parent, year round school is still only 180 days sprayed around. It still isn't more learning time.


6 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 4, 2015 at 8:02 am

Yes, understood. It's more consistent learning without the summer loss snd recovery at the beginning of each new year. It's a better approach to learning.


12 people like this
Posted by Summer learning loss???
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2015 at 9:25 am

Many local companies offer their most valuable employees sabbaticals. How can they tolerate the sabbatical learning loss? New moms and dads in our area are given generous 6-9 month maternity/paternity leaves. How can they possibly perform in their jobs when they return, given the "diaper changing learning loss". Those examples are for adults, who adapt and learn at a much slower pace than our youth. This "summer learning loss" argument is absurd, and being pushed by Trustee Laursen, beating the drum loudly for her own pet beliefs.

Why? Let's see. Starting salary for our union teachers in Pleasanton is approx. $64.558 (yes, even for a 21 y/o new graduate with teaching cert). Average for full time teachers is over $100,000. That's for 9 months of work. So....if all teachers start working full year, we could bump starting teacher pay to $86,000 and average teacher pay to $133,000! Keep in mind that teaching days wouldn't go up, but we'd have more "staff development days". Good idea! Easy to see why unions would want this, but why would the administrators support that increase in costs? Well, when an average teacher is making $133K, the trustees will have to bump up admin and contract pay to provide an incentive for those employees.... Go to TransparentCalifornia website or the PUSD website, HR page under Certificated salary schedule if you'd like to fact check the salary numbers. It's all public, thank goodness.

Please, residents, let's not throw any money at a trustee's personal pet project that only benefits her union pals. Just wait, we'll be asked soon to support a new tax or bond.... For the kids!!!!


9 people like this
Posted by Maritess Simmons
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Dec 4, 2015 at 9:38 am

My only comment about the calendar change is the inordinate time/effort/energy spent on what boils down to vacation schedules, resistance to change, perception of not being included in the decision-making process by some. Would love to see a more comprehensive approach to solving the calendar-related issues (stress reduction, alignment with AP test schedule, summer/family time, school-parent communications) that considers OTHER things as well - later start times, modifying curriculum (do we really need 180 days of instruction, x years of math/english/history or are there better ways for students to learn more effectively), project based learning, block schedules, longer lunches, need for teacher prep/collab/PD time, healthy school lunches, teacher shortage (?), FACILITIES, capacity planning, cultural competency, a free and appropriate education for ALL students, personalized learning, independent study options, gathering and use of relevant data for decision making, etc. Very frustrating that the calendar has sucked up so much time/energy/resources in lieu of other very important issues.


21 people like this
Posted by Calendar Change is coming
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Dec 4, 2015 at 10:35 am

For all those opposed to a calendar change, I hate to tell you but so far Dublin and SRV districts are both considering this, we got the ball rolling but they took a different approach after watching the mess here in Pleasanton. We had the chance to be the leader in this and instead with all these parents complaining we will be the ones left behind. This will unfortunately not affect me as I have a Senior, but how I wish this was done 15 years ago when my kids started school here. I see nothing wrong with starting around August 18th and getting out the end of May. This can be done and I strongly encourage the district to do this. Everyone will get used to it and if we don't change and everyone around us does than we are the ones who are going to suffer with sports, etc. De La Salle and Carondelet already do this and actually start earlier. Once people try it I think they will like it much more than the current schedule....


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 4, 2015 at 10:50 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"Summer", 180 days of learning, 180 days of pay (and the aforementioned contracted additional non-student days)--teachers are not going to get paid more than what they are working even if the 180 is stretched out over an entire calendar. Your concern about teachers getting paid more, however, is dismaying. The best teachers, who have a major influence on your child's abilities and talents, deserve more than they receive now.

Marines, I agree with "Would love to see a more comprehensive approach to solving the calendar-related issues (stress reduction, alignment with AP test schedule, summer/family time, school-parent communications) that considers OTHER things as well - later start times, modifying curriculum (do we really need 180 days of instruction, x years of math/english/history or are there better ways for students to learn more effectively), project based learning, block schedules, longer lunches, need for teacher prep/collab/PD time, healthy school lunches, teacher shortage (?), FACILITIES, capacity planning, cultural competency, personalized learning, independent study options, . . . gathering and use of relevant data for decision making, etc."

This phrase--a free and appropriate education for ALL students--needs to be used with caution. I have seen what some have done with "free," which ended up eliminating many programs like summer school enrichment classes. Removing opportunity for ALL because some don't want to receive "scholarships" has taken opportunity away from ALL. An unfortunate outcome to resolving a perceived problem.


6 people like this
Posted by No October break
a resident of Ironwood
on Dec 4, 2015 at 11:03 am

I just heard from someone who lives in Dublin that they will be getting a survey soon. Their proposed school calendar would have school starting mid-August and end early June, no October break. I think the October break and having school start early August were the biggest issues.

If Pleasanton finds October break necessary, how about a shorter one, perhaps 2-3 days off in October and then another 2-3 days for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is so close to the 2 week Christmas holiday, so if families want to travel far, Christmas is still a good time.

I think that earlier in the year, students are not yet drained, which makes the October break less necessary. It is good that they have the Spring Break week towards the latter part of the year when they need a recharge.


29 people like this
Posted by Enough Already
a resident of Castlewood
on Dec 4, 2015 at 11:49 am

Why does the school board listen to the whining of the vocal minority and backed out of the original plan to modify the calendar? Some people are always going to oppose to changes regardless of what those changes entail. Just modify the damn calendar and let them deal with it in their own way. If they don't like the changes, then they can move. I'm sick of these whining NIMBY crying a river over every change that they see. Enough is enough!


1 person likes this
Posted by Maritess Simmons
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Dec 4, 2015 at 12:10 pm

@Kathleen, the phrase Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is an educational right of children with disabilities in the United States that is guaranteed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). I'm not sure why you recommend it be used "with caution" ...

If it takes away from, say summer school enrichment programs then the logical conclusion is that there is not enough funding for both. Not surprising with California being continually ranking so poorly nationwide on per-pupil spending, + our federal legislators have not backed up the FAPE mandate with the funding needed to help make it happen.


2 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Amador Estates
on Dec 4, 2015 at 12:25 pm

I don't believe any "survey" the school sponsors. They bias the data, or just flat out misinterpret it.

The survey is just a ploy to bypass parents. Again.


14 people like this
Posted by NewParentInPUSD
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 4, 2015 at 1:39 pm

The average teacher does not make ANYwhere near 100,000. I ave no clue where that person got their information from. Pleasanton has a highly competitive salary schedule. We moved up here from Orange County, I am a public school teacher and I can assure you the teachers here are paid well, which is great!! Even with my Masters and 9 years experience I was making 65K in SoCal.

Now, could we please extend the school day at the Kindergarten level?? THREE HOURS?? It's laughable, especially for a district so close to Silicon Valley. The students deserve more.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 4, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Maritess, I understand FAPE, but it has been used to prevent enrichment programs, for one. So if a district provides enrichment for a cost to the participant and the participants are willing to pay a little more to provide scholarships for those who cannot afford the program, but are interested--it can't be done, and suddenly ALL applies to NO ONE getting the enrichment. That is misguided thinking. As to ranking so poorly in funding, you'd have to get people to be willing to pay more taxes or get the legislature to pony up for these kinds of programs.

New Parent, Just an FYI, top pay can reach $105,000 and a 2011 scattergram showed a largely senior staff at the high end of the salary schedule (can't find a current version of the scattergram): Web Link


18 people like this
Posted by Former teacher
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Dec 4, 2015 at 3:07 pm

How about we do away with the 6 school day Thanksgiving break and shorten it to 3 days AND combine the 2 holidays in February, along with the 3 days cut (hypothetically) from Thanksgiving and give us a WEEK off in February?


11 people like this
Posted by oldtimer
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Dec 4, 2015 at 5:11 pm

The teachers salaries in Pleasanton went as high as $124,315.38 in 2014 (that is regular pay). Looks like several PE teachers making over $114K.

You can get the 2014 PUSD salaries at Transparent California: Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by oldtimer
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Dec 4, 2015 at 5:20 pm

In the same website for transparent california, you can see the pension payouts also. Was surprise to see that the average pension for full career retirees who retired from PUSD was $75,568.57. It lists Merlin Donaldson who retired in 2007 and has an annual pension of $189,042.18. That seems quite excessive and a reason the pension system is in trouble. I do see teachers I knew who are over $90K in annual pension. Not saying that these people are over paid but rather they are well-paid with their salaries over $100K, and pensions near there.


1 person likes this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2015 at 7:02 pm

We fear change.

Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 4, 2015 at 7:18 pm

I'll speak for myself… I'm not against exploring a new calendar. The upsetting thing last time around was all the BS that went along with it. If the staff and the Trustees are honest about it this time, I don't think it'll be a problem. Miller wasn't elected due to the calendar, he was elected due to the arrogance!


6 people like this
Posted by factchecker
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2015 at 8:07 pm

Not only is the calendar survey on the agenda, but there is also an item regarding a plan to put another school bond on the ballot in November 2016. we need to insist on accountability for the money. It looks like a good portion of the developer fees received by the district are going to pay down the COPS. Is that what the fees are intended for or is it for new construction?


4 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 4, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Agreed on a change in calander does not necessitate a change in pay for the same amount of working days. Anyone arguing otherwise is self serving.

Sabatical is not common. And it's not used in 3 month chunks - I know, I had it, I approved time off requests for my team. None took more than 3 weeks at a time, and the majority took a week at a time at most - again with more time off spread out over the yr and for the exact reason you mentioned. They didn't want to get lost in the time off.

Maternity and paternity leave is different - it's not an annual occurrence. Your bringing in an out of scope example


10 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2015 at 3:07 pm

I don't mind a change. I did mind how my flexibility was mis-interpreted last time on the survey results. I see a good reason for exams before Christmas.

I have no problem with school starting a week earlier, ending earlier in June and reducing the number of minimum days and the Thanksgiving break.

There is no need for a week off in Oct and starting in early Aug with a tiny summer break. I believe in a good summer break to rest and rejuvenate and learn different things.

I think you'll find that Pleasanton is not resistant to change, just resistant to the specific change that was pushed through previously with little support. My survey results were interpreted as if I supported the large schedule change they proposed when actually I was ok with some modifications to help out the high schoolers, but not a drastic reduction in summer in exchange for an Oct break that made no sense.

By the way - why are they emailing grades 8-12 and not all grades?


3 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2015 at 3:24 pm

I just skimmed through the survey. It "leads" towards a calendar change. The survey appears designed to educate us. It is also too long and needs to be proof read. Question 8a makes no sense. Also, getting just high school kids to participate (of kids), it gets biased in one direction. As mentioned, I would support a change to help high school kids, but pls make survey meaningful for all.


6 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

To "parent",

Starting school just a week earlier will not get finals before Christmas, currently there are three weeks of the semester left following Christmas break. Semesters need to remain similar in length, as there are a few classes that are just a semester in length, not a whole year. And they are emailing only 8-12th graders because kindergarteners, for example, probably can't make a well informed decision on the calendar. And they can't read. And don't get email.

To "Parent" (are you the same as "parent"?),

I have not seen the new survey. Are you looking at last year's survey?

As to everyone who doesn't want an October break, think about this for a second: without an October break, school would start about August 11-17. In the following 13 weeks, going all the way to Veteran's Day, there would be only one day off, Labor Day. That is a very long stretch to go without a break. The October week would work as a both a break for students and teachers, and also a chance for students who are behind to have a catch-up week.


3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 5, 2015 at 11:08 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

GtF, I posted two calendars earlier in the thread. The start date this year was August 17/18. There is Labor Day in September and a staff development day in October; Veteran's Day and three days for Thanksgiving in November; and finals before the break. There is a few days disparity in the two semesters, but certainly not three weeks. Why is there a need for an entire week off in October? And why Would any district start from scratch when there are many districts that have tested and kept successful calendars to get finals before the break?


Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2015 at 12:15 am

Yep I'm the same.And if they have three weeks or a month before exams they should be fine and not nred to study too much over Christmas Break.

And the link is in the article. Read the details. Out loud if you have too.


2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2015 at 12:23 am

My middle school and elementary kids have strong feelings about the summer. They also have district authorized and mandated email addresses where they are trusted to do work / blog etc. So yeah, they all have school paid for email and opinions that count. I'll help the high school kids, but the survey I saw was awful.


3 people like this
Posted by DM
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2015 at 10:00 am

The most relevant argument for a early start calendar change hasn't yet been mentioned on this strand. Students at the lower, middle, and high school levels experience spring testing (usually at some point in April). That includes SBAC, AP, etc. After testing, there are roughly six weeks of instructional days left. Six weeks! Since the spring testing window isn't flexible, wouldn't it make sense to start the school year earlier in order to allow students and instructors more time to cover the curriculum? In my opinion, it's not about vacations (having the winter holiday break take place after first semester high school final exams would be a terrific side effect to moving the start date to early August), teacher pay, one grade level vs. another, summer camps, etc.


7 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2015 at 1:39 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Kathleen, "And why Would any district start from scratch when there are many districts that have tested and kept successful calendars to get finals before the break?"
We are not starting from scratch, there are other models that resemble this. Brentwood was referred to quite often in the earlier calendar discussion, that we were resembling the "Brentwood model". Brentwood started student days this year on July 28, had TWO weeks off in October, and has 18 weeks in the first semester, and 21 in the second semester (the last week is just three days long). I don't think anyone here wants two weeks off in October, or a two week Spring Break, but regardless, we are not starting from scratch, models are out there. Web Link

Parent "And the link is in the article. Read the details. Out loud if you have too."
I realized the link was in the article. I jumped to the conclusion you had the actual survey, not just the draft, my bad. No need to be condescending in your reply to me.
"My middle school and elementary kids have strong feelings about the summer."
Fine, but your middle school and elementary school kids have not experienced high school and the needs they may or may not have to have finals before the break. Only a high schooler can look back with experience and decide what is best for all of their years.
"They also have district authorized and mandated email addresses where they are trusted to do work / blog etc. So yeah, they all have school paid for email ..."
I realize all students have email, but I used Kindergarteners on purpose as an exaggerated example. Are K's really using their email and making an informed decision on their surveys? There is a reason that voting in the U.S. starts at 18, a line has to be drawn, and for our purposes it is proposed to be drawn at 8th grade. I think that's a fair spot.

DM makes a great point, it's more than just finals.

And for anyone who thinks we should have school on Thanksgiving week, it will never happen. Most districts don't do it, attendance is lower, it won't happen. Gotta maximize that ADA, and having the whole week off helps greatly with that.


9 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2015 at 6:29 pm

If this process just considers high school needs, I suspect the community will not appreciate that approach. I can see headlines saying xxx percent of high school kids want something, but if you don't include the views of the younger kids who truly value their summer break, I think there will be problems.. I have no problem supporting high school needs but the approach has to be fair to all. I doubt there is significant support for school to start in early Aug, but there may be support for a slightly earlier start if it helps. Sorry for the condescending remark, it was unwarranted. Just frustrated to see the survey and how it was worded. Feels like we haven't moved on and I'm so tired of this district trying to "educate" us rather than truly listen.


5 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Regardless of how it is worded, it will be interesting to see what the results of the survey are. Many people, myself included, think the majority of parents were in favor of the change (or didn't care either way), and that there was a very vocal minority in favor of no change. (Teachers were in favor of change, but many changed their mind, I'm curious what the new survey will show.) Hopefully the survey will tell the tale of what is desired.

Speaking of the survey, it would seem silly to have seniors, and even juniors, have their results posted with everyone else, as any changes will not affect them. I do think their results should be looked at and taken into consideration, as they have the best experience of high school pressures and such, but again, it won't affect them.

It seems that most people posting here are against the change. For the record, I can see potential benefits for students, but I couldn't care less. I'm a teacher, I work 185 days either way, I'd even be fine with year-round school.


13 people like this
Posted by Ennis
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 6, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Parent - unfortunately, the PW should have better identified the "stakeholders"-they were parents of elementary, middle, and high school students. As you clearly have such strong feelings about the issue, maybe you should have volunteered to attend the 6 meetings that were held, been a member of the sub-committee that was tasked to create the survey and actually put some skin into the game instead of repeatedly posting anonymously. You demean their efforts and commitment. My wife is one of those frequently criticized grossly overpaid classified district employees who volunteered her time and was part of the committee that addressed the issue and, with her position, gets to see firsthand the levels of stress these high school kids go through. My sense from your postings is that you haven't yet had the pleasure of experiencing the stress the high school kids encounter, particularly with the competitiveness for the rationed space in the UC system. We are going through round two with our daughter and it's not fun nor does it seem particularly productive. Again, if you have such strong feelings on the matter, then get involved and stop posting and complaining anonymously.

And to GTFacts -you are right,Thanksgiving week break came about due to the massive numbers of students missing the entire week due to their parents lack of responsibility. My recollection is that the recent bomb scare at Amador resulted in $170K in lost ADA money. 3 days of lost revenue on that scale (or greater) is a big hit to the district.


2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2015 at 9:12 pm

It's not all about your high school kids Ennis, that's the point. I volunteer plenty of hours to the schools and school district. I get that all the parents are being surveyed, but it looks like there is another just for high school students. To me the survey looks long and biased
In one direction. But that's it from me.


8 people like this
Posted by Linda Pipe
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 7, 2015 at 10:21 am

The Calendar Committee is made up of parents, staff, and administrators covering all three school levels. We were tasked with determining whether or not there is a need to alter the school calendar to better meet the needs of our students, parents and employees. Palo Alto and San Ramon, just to mention two districts, have surveyed and found that there is a strong socio-emotional and academic value for high school students, to having Semester 1 end before Winter Break. PUSD Interim Superintendent, Jim Hansen, did a small sampling survey of current high school students at all three high schools and found the same here. Therefore we are exploring further whether there is a need/desire to make as minor a change as possible to the calendar to meet the needs of our high school students.

Yes, Parent, this is a high school issue more than an elementary issue and we on the committee do not deny that. There are parents on the committee with elementary students, middle school students and high school students. All students will eventually be high school students. No one is diminishing the needs of elementary students (we were all there once). We realize that having a term end before Winter Break really doesn’t affect grades K-6/7, but it potentially does affect the secondary level.

So, what the survey is attempting to do is find out if in fact there is a need/problem in Pleasanton as there has been found to be in surrounding school districts. IF the survey shows that there is a need to make an adjustment in the calendar to better meet the needs of our high school students, then that will be our proposal to the school board.

Elementary and younger middle school students aren’t being surveyed because they aren’t directly affected by the proposed change…YET…and therefore would not know how to answer the questions. Students in K-7 are not affected at this stage of their education…it is truly a high school issue.

To be clear…this survey and potential new calendar does not affect the length of summer break, except for the first transition year. Palo Alto and San Ramon both have 10+ week summer breaks (same as PUSD currently). No one on the committee is advocating shortening summer for ANYONE. In fact, IF the survey shows there is a need for change and IF the board decides to consider what is best for our high school students (and therefore all future high school students), the 16-17 school year would be the best year to start as Winter Break starts late next year anyway so the start of school would not need to be moved back the full two weeks.

Please understand that the survey is to determine if there is a need and how to meet that need in the least disruptive way possible. My daughter is one of those 11th graders that may or may not have the opportunity to benefit from this change, but she doesn't feel it is "silly" at all to participate in the survey. She knows first hand, the challenges students face in high school. She would want the classes coming after her to have the best possible calendar to meet their needs and I would hope parents of future high school students would want the same.

Lastly, this process is NOT like the debacle of last year. The committee and the district are asking for input UP FRONT from the community stakeholders and we aren't floating 5 calendars then telling the Board of Trustees that only 2 are viable to vote on. I'm proud to be part of this committee and proud of the work we have done collectively to produce this survey. The people on the committee are varied in background but united in desiring to find out what the community thinks and then recommending what is best for our students. After all, isn't that what we all want?


2 people like this
Posted by JackP
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2015 at 12:12 pm

A big congratulations to Joan Laursen and her new job with the Castro Valley Unified School District. She is a new Account Tech. I wonder if the previous Superintendent will find a place for any other of her favorites in Castro Valley?

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 7, 2015 at 1:06 pm

I'm hoping the board and the powers that be learned from the fiasco and will handle it better this time around.

Those who complain about this being a high school focused decision you do realize your elementary kids will one day be high schoolers, right? Let's look towards the future and do what's best for our students and tone down the rhetoric a tad and get this done well this time. The modified lite was a fairly minor change in the current traditional calendar. An astounding 2/3 majority surveyed were in favor of some sort of change. See link below.

Do the right thing trustees: be transparent, modify the calendar to solve some of the issues and don't let the angry vocal minority bully you.

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 7, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Get the Facts, I don't personally care for the Brentwood model. A July 28 start, two weeks in October to make up for that early start, and the overly large gap in semesters seem torturous. I don't know what Brentwood's particular goals were.

Linda, First, thank you and others on the committee for your work. I certainly hope all parents/guardians and high school students will be surveyed. While the potential need for high school is one of the stronger arguments in making a change, those with only elementary students cannot be cut out of the process as it will affect them in the future and should have a voice now.

Ellen, vocal minorities have a value as they often raise concerns others haven't considered. Using words like rhetoric, angry, and bullying aren't necessary. I would hope we can be gracious and open to all, and see what the conclusion eventually is.

Ultimately, calendars are a negotiable item with teachers. They are the lead partners in this community discussion. I hope for a collaborative and workable answer to whether a change is needed and what shape any change might take.


7 people like this
Posted by huh?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2015 at 2:34 pm

I wonder if Jeff Bowser is next to become an employee of the Castro Valley school district?


11 people like this
Posted by Linda Pipe
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 7, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Kathleen - All parents are to be surveyed. All High School students plus 8th graders are to be surveyed. Only students K-7 are not surveyed. Thank you for sharing the facts from Palo Alto. If a change is needed, the committee was trying to keep it as simple and unobtrusive as possible. No one on the committee was trying to cut summer break short.

There were other things discussed - later daily start, longer/shorter days, longer shorter summers, trimesters, block schedule. But those were not things the Board of Trustees tasked the committee to survey at this point. We were tasked with finding out if there was a need/openness to a calendar change - hopefully a minor one - to facilitate the best learning atmosphere for PUSD students - especially high school students. That was our guiding philosophy when creating the survey.

I too hope that everyone (quiet majority, vocal minority and everyone in between) will thoughtfully take the survey keeping in mind not only what is important in their life presently, but also the future needs of their student and family. Time goes so quickly.

I too hope for a collaborative and workable answer to a very real challenge for our high school students.


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Posted by Brit
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2015 at 7:03 pm

The only options that should be on that survey are options that:
Don't have an October break, that don't start school till the 3rd week in August, and that HAVE TESTING FOR HIGH SCHOOLERS BEFORE Holiday Break. If they can't meet all 3 "Community Interests", PUSD should leave the calendar the same and stop wasting our time. All other options generate huge division and will leave a fractured community.
PUSD administrators gets paid the big bucks to figure out how to make this work for ALL students and parents! By the way, since High School students get to fill out the survey, do I get to fill one out for both my elementary school student and myself? I know for a fact she wants a long summer break, and she is a "Shareholder" too? Do all the parents of high school students ALSO get to fill out a survey? Is there a family limit to surveys submitted? My child in junior high really feels compelled to fill out a survey too. Won't having high school students, and their families fill out multiple surveys just skew the data percentages? PUSD should only allow 1 survey PER FAMILY. I am very concerned will be right back where we were....with "skewed" percentages not truly representing the community.


6 people like this
Posted by Annoyed again
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 7, 2015 at 7:46 pm

How about the teachers spend more time in the classroom by doing staff development days during the summer? That would surely make up many of the day's needed to end finals before Xmas break? And maybe look at moving to a trimester rather than semester?


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 7, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Brit, I will venture a guess that student response results will be reported separately from parents and both reported separately from teachers and other levels of staff.


12 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 7, 2015 at 8:34 pm

Annoyed again - agreed.

The number of inservice days during the school year, during educational hours, is ridiculous. I understand the need for mid year checkins, but schedule it for a Saturday or after school. No reason once in a while the faculty can't stay after school to meet.


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Posted by Brit
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2015 at 9:04 pm

Kathleen, do you work for the district? If not, you should stop "speculating" and let the PUSD employees answer questions about how many surveys a family can fill out.


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Posted by Brit
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2015 at 9:18 pm

Oh, and Kathleen, since you are in the inside loop and I am not, does the district also intend to give different percentage weights to all the different "reported response" groups...teachers, high schoolers, parents of high schoolers, parents of elementary schoolers, junior high students? Why report separately? Who's survey should matter more?


3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 7, 2015 at 10:27 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Linda Pipe is on the committee. It is not unusual for separate reporting to be certain the board understands how each stakeholder group feels. I don't think it would be weighted, but as it is a negotiable item for the teachers' contract, how they respond will be important for their leadership, just as how families respond should be important to the board. The data can be disaggregated for grade levels, even by grade level, if the survey includes a request for that information and an easy way to collect it.


4 people like this
Posted by Brit
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2015 at 9:04 am

It is of utmost importance for "credibility" reasons for PUSD to not "stack the deck" with 3,000+ responses from high school students, and then another 3,000+ from the High School parents. They should only count students if they give EACH and EVERY student at PUSD their own survey. That means giving EACH elementary student the opportunity to choose what they want. ALL STUDENTS OPINIONS MATTER, even 1st graders. So elementary parents should fill out 1 survey with their child and one for themselves, to keep percentage weights true. ALL Middle School Students should fill one out! Otherwise, in 4 months we are going to hear things like this from PUSD "A majority of Stakeholders want this....." But in reality they stacked the deck and skewed the percentages to get that outcome by giving more surveys to a certain age group with different needs.
I know it is of utmost importance for my middle school child to not start school till the third week in August. He plans to take math classes at the Junior College over the summer, and the JC doesn't end their summer session till the 2nd week in August. Not overlapping the Junior college schedule is also very important for High School students who either need to fill a prerequisite over the summer, or retake a class over the summer due to a bad grade they want to replace. The Junior College is the only place accredited to do that with an actual teacher present. The enrichment and technology courses offered over the summer at college campuses are important for PUSD to keep in mind too, if we want "well rounded" students.


20 people like this
Posted by PUSD is a mess
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2015 at 9:50 am

Working parents already have to take vacation days to take time off for the various PUSD teacher's union holidays in order to watch their children like M T W before Thanksgiving. Working parents can't take off random one week breaks in October otherwise families get no time to take a vacation in the summer.

When I moved to Pleasanton, I didn't realize I was entering a time warp to the 1950s where it was assumed that all mothers stay home to tend the kids.

The unnecessary minimum days need to be dropped along with all of these days that school is out where there is no official holiday. School should start after Labor Day and end the first week of June. Other districts manage to do this. Why can't Pleasanton?

As far as exams being before the Christmas holiday, that is ridiculous. The entire Pleasanton economy should not revolve around a few 9-12 graders.

Pleasanton should explore a block or hybrid block schedule like other school districts and have a modern schedule, not something out of the 'only one person works' dark ages.


9 people like this
Posted by MillionareMan
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Dec 8, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Anyone remember this documentary movie ?
The race to NO WHERE
Web Link


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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2015 at 9:52 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

To Kathleen: "Get the Facts, I don't personally care for the Brentwood model." I'm not suggesting that the Brentwood model is good or bad. You made a point that PUSD was creating a new model, I am simply stating that a very similar model exists (take one week off of both the Fall and Spring breaks of the Brentwood model, and you have the same schedule that was proposed a couple years back).

To Brit: "The only options that should be on that survey are options that: Don't have an October break, that don't start school till the 3rd week in August, and that HAVE TESTING FOR HIGH SCHOOLERS BEFORE Holiday Break."
What you ask for is not possible, unless the semesters are of significantly different length. This is not possible right now with semester length classes, this would only work if those classes were done away with.

"do I get to fill one out for both my elementary school student and myself? I know for a fact she wants a long summer break"
What is your definition of a long break? Wouldn't a summer of five or six weeks be considered long? The proposal from a couple years back had a nine week break, only one week shorter than the current ten week break.

To PUSD is a mess: "Working parents already have to take vacation days to take time off for the various PUSD teacher's union holidays in order to watch their children like M T W before Thanksgiving" These days are not union holidays. This was changed many years ago due to low attendance, as mentioned in my earlier post.

"Working parents can't take off random one week breaks in October otherwise families get no time to take a vacation in the summer." The previous schedule proposed had a nine week summer and a week off on October. The current schedule has a ten week summer. Day care will be needed for either schedule, to the tune of ten weeks either way.

"School should start after Labor Day and end the first week of June. Other districts manage to do this. Why can't Pleasanton?" Please show me a schedule where this happens. This would leave a 12 or 13 week summer! 180 school days are needed, where are you going to fit them all? Four days of school on Thanksgiving week? School on Christmas Eve?

"As far as exams being before the Christmas holiday, that is ridiculous. The entire Pleasanton economy should not revolve around a few 9-12 graders." The "entire Pleasanton economy"? How does changing the school year effect even a piece of the economy?

"Pleasanton should explore a block or hybrid block schedule like other school districts and have a modern schedule, not something out of the 'only one person works' dark ages." That is what they are doing, looking at changing the schedule to help the ever changing needs of the students.


6 people like this
Posted by PUSD is a mess
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2015 at 11:33 pm

School districts should be in the business to educate students, not have a series of teacher's union faux holidays. Having students take of Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving causes a loss of learning for students and lost productivity in the businesses in the Bay Area the parents work for in the private sector because the parents have to take multiple vacation days to look after children when the children should be in school.

Likewise, having a series of random breaks throughout the school year also causes parents who work for the private sector to have to take vacation time to look after children when the children should be in school.

In the real world in the private sector, lost time at work means lost productivity which means lower company earnings, etc. In the public sector world of education, not showing up for work means some substitute will be called in by the educrats that run the school district. In the real private sector world, an employee not showing up for work causes a drain on the entire team structure at work in the company because assignments cannot be completed while the parents in the Bay Area sit at home taking care of children during the union faux holidays or the union faux random breaks.

In the end, most private sector workers only have 2 weeks of vacation anyway, most of which is wasted by having to take time off early to pick up children on minimum days or stay at home child tending during the PUSD faux union holidays.


3 people like this
Posted by Kris
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2015 at 7:07 am

@PUSD is a mess, there are plenty of camps during the thanksgiving week and every single childcare facility that normally watches these children after school is open for the full day during these times, or there for kids on minimum days. Schools are not a daycare facility! If you don't have regular after school childcare then check for camps, there are so many. Yes, it's hard to balance work and children, we all struggle with it. Don't blame the district, it's not their responsibility.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 9, 2015 at 7:54 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Kris, not everyone can afford camps, let alone camps multiple times a year. And while I agree schools are not babysitters, they don't need to make calendars unnecessarily difficult either. Single parent families are one example in both cases.


3 people like this
Posted by Kris
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2015 at 8:35 am

@Kathkeen, Whether a camp is paid for during the 10th week of summer or in November you are still paying for it. The total amount of days off inPUSD is no different than in other districts. We moved here from another area and I find there is much more opportunity for things to do on days off here than where I was before. There is also always neighbors and other parents at the school if this person is really in a bind, I find most people willing to help on those occasional odd days.


7 people like this
Posted by Working Parent
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Dec 9, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Kris-
Sorry but I respectfully disagree with your statement about childcare. There are no camps available to cover for MLK, Veterans Day or that mystery Monday off before Presidents Day to name a few. Most working parents don't get those days off. I have looked everywhere and haven't found any coverage.
Ykids (our afterschool program on campus) is only open for 2 days over Christmas break. They also are only open two days for Thanksgiving week and do not cover the full Spring break week. I pay Ykids for childcare coverage, yet they still close many times when school is out, so I need to pay additional money elsewhere or take vacation days to cover for the gaps. While the afterschool program does cover some days, it definitely does not cover all. I am certain the same holds true for other care options.
Secondly, I can find a week of full day camps for as low at $200 per week in the summer and there are lots of options, and high quality ones. Most of the single day/short week camps or nanny services, if I can find them, can charge up to $100 per day. The cost is NOT the same. And as Kathleen says, not everyone can afford them.
Finally, while it is a nice thought and you might be one of the nice minority of parents that offers, most parents are not out there generously offering to watch other people's children. They have their hands full with their own kids on the days off.
PUSD does need to understand the impact it has on the kids with all of these days off and it is not just about needing a break. We don't want young kids being left alone at home all day, and it does happen. Plus, my kids learn best on a routine 5 day schedule. They learn a lot less during minimum day weeks and short weeks. I don't think they learned a thing in the entire month of November with the current calendar.
I am also supportive of removing unnecessary school days off and shifting it towards a longer summer instead.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Couples: Drop Your Keyboard!
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 5,357 views

 

Nominations due by Sept. 17

Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com are once again putting out a call for nominations and sponsorships for the annual Tri-Valley Heroes awards - our salute to the community members dedicated to bettering the Tri-Valley and the lives of its residents.

Nomination form