News

School board to consider approving calendar change

Employee unions sign off on proposal to end first semester before winter break starting in 2016-17

The San Ramon Valley school board is set to weigh final approval Tuesday of proposed changes to the district's traditional school calendar that focus on finishing the first semester before winter break starting next school year -- a shift that has now been endorsed by all three district employee unions.

After more than five months of public debate, the school board indicated initial support for the calendar change concept in October and directed district staff to begin negotiating the issue with employee bargaining groups.

Those talks are now complete, and the unions have signed off on the proposed 2016-17 instructional calendar that closely mirrors district officials' recommendation to the board two months ago, according to Keith Rogenski, assistant superintendent of human resources.

The proposed 2016-17 calendar would start school on Aug. 15 and end the first semester on Dec. 21, 2016. The second semester would begin Jan. 9, 2017, and finish June 1, 2017.

That differs from the district's traditional calendar like this year's, which had all schools start on the final full week of August and finish up on the second Thursday of June. The first semester ends on the fourth Friday in January.

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The consideration of those key changes contributed to impassioned public discourse at board meetings and on social media over the past five months, with feedback from strong supporters and fervent detractors.

Supporters of the schedule shift say finishing the first semester and final exams before winter break would create a true break for students around the winter holidays, free from stresses associated with studying and projects. Other positives they cite include creating more instructional time before May's Advanced Placement (AP) exams and better aligning high schoolers' schedule with college calendars.

Critics have expressed concerns about factors such as starting the year earlier in the summer, rushing to finish the first semester amid December holidays, a lack of data showing the winter break adjustment would actually reduce student stress and the transparency of the district's calendar-review process.

In recent weeks, district officials learned where the employee unions stood on the issue.

The San Ramon Valley Education Association (SRVEA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and California School Employees Association (CSEA) bargaining units have each approved of the 2016-17 calendar with the key component of shifting first-semester finals to before winter break, Rogenski said.

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The proposed calendar also sets week-long Thanksgiving and spring breaks, from Nov. 21-25 and April 3-7, 2017, respectively.

There are 180 total instructional days like in previous years, but the proposed calendar calls for 10 fewer days in the first semester than the second. Uneven semesters are implemented by some districts in the state, in part because AP and state testing -- which cut into instructional time -- occur in the second semester, district officials said.

The district's middle schools and high schools are on a semester system while elementary schools are on a trimester system. The proposed calendar ends the first trimester on Nov. 10 and ends the second trimester on March 2, 2017.

The school board is set to consider approving the administration-recommended and union-endorsed 2016-17 instructional calendar during a special meeting Tuesday night, beginning at 7 p.m. inside the boardrooms at the district administrative complex, 699 Old Orchard Drive in Danville.

SRVEA represents district teachers as well as counselors, nurses, psychologists, librarians and speech pathologists.

SEIU Local 1021, Unit I represents maintenance, operations, transportation and other service workers. CSEA Unit II represents clerical, technical, child nutrition and other classified workers while CSEA Unit III represents paraprofessionals.

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Jeremy Walsh
 
Jeremy Walsh, a Benicia native and American University alum, joined Embarcadero Media in November 2013. After serving as associate editor for the Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com, he was promoted to editor of the East Bay Division in February 2017. Read more >>

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School board to consider approving calendar change

Employee unions sign off on proposal to end first semester before winter break starting in 2016-17

by /

Uploaded: Mon, Dec 14, 2015, 4:44 pm

The San Ramon Valley school board is set to weigh final approval Tuesday of proposed changes to the district's traditional school calendar that focus on finishing the first semester before winter break starting next school year -- a shift that has now been endorsed by all three district employee unions.

After more than five months of public debate, the school board indicated initial support for the calendar change concept in October and directed district staff to begin negotiating the issue with employee bargaining groups.

Those talks are now complete, and the unions have signed off on the proposed 2016-17 instructional calendar that closely mirrors district officials' recommendation to the board two months ago, according to Keith Rogenski, assistant superintendent of human resources.

The proposed 2016-17 calendar would start school on Aug. 15 and end the first semester on Dec. 21, 2016. The second semester would begin Jan. 9, 2017, and finish June 1, 2017.

That differs from the district's traditional calendar like this year's, which had all schools start on the final full week of August and finish up on the second Thursday of June. The first semester ends on the fourth Friday in January.

The consideration of those key changes contributed to impassioned public discourse at board meetings and on social media over the past five months, with feedback from strong supporters and fervent detractors.

Supporters of the schedule shift say finishing the first semester and final exams before winter break would create a true break for students around the winter holidays, free from stresses associated with studying and projects. Other positives they cite include creating more instructional time before May's Advanced Placement (AP) exams and better aligning high schoolers' schedule with college calendars.

Critics have expressed concerns about factors such as starting the year earlier in the summer, rushing to finish the first semester amid December holidays, a lack of data showing the winter break adjustment would actually reduce student stress and the transparency of the district's calendar-review process.

In recent weeks, district officials learned where the employee unions stood on the issue.

The San Ramon Valley Education Association (SRVEA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and California School Employees Association (CSEA) bargaining units have each approved of the 2016-17 calendar with the key component of shifting first-semester finals to before winter break, Rogenski said.

The proposed calendar also sets week-long Thanksgiving and spring breaks, from Nov. 21-25 and April 3-7, 2017, respectively.

There are 180 total instructional days like in previous years, but the proposed calendar calls for 10 fewer days in the first semester than the second. Uneven semesters are implemented by some districts in the state, in part because AP and state testing -- which cut into instructional time -- occur in the second semester, district officials said.

The district's middle schools and high schools are on a semester system while elementary schools are on a trimester system. The proposed calendar ends the first trimester on Nov. 10 and ends the second trimester on March 2, 2017.

The school board is set to consider approving the administration-recommended and union-endorsed 2016-17 instructional calendar during a special meeting Tuesday night, beginning at 7 p.m. inside the boardrooms at the district administrative complex, 699 Old Orchard Drive in Danville.

SRVEA represents district teachers as well as counselors, nurses, psychologists, librarians and speech pathologists.

SEIU Local 1021, Unit I represents maintenance, operations, transportation and other service workers. CSEA Unit II represents clerical, technical, child nutrition and other classified workers while CSEA Unit III represents paraprofessionals.

Comments

Momof3
Danville
on Dec 15, 2015 at 10:06 am
Momof3, Danville
on Dec 15, 2015 at 10:06 am

Does anyone really believe this is so the students can have less stress during their break? Give ME a break! There is never work assigned to be done over Christmas, so if anything, the break would allow kids to catch up, if need be. The ONLY reason for this change is because the 3 unions have agreed to it. By all means, let the unions decide, right?


bb
Danville
on Dec 16, 2015 at 8:08 am
bb, Danville
on Dec 16, 2015 at 8:08 am

momof3, I disagree, my 3 children have been assigned homework over winter break, not catch up but projects. Also, there have been survey to the community so it is not based on a union whim. Many schools throughout the country are changing. We are not agrarian communities that need to stick to an 18th century school calendar.


FanDanville
Danville
on Dec 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm
FanDanville, Danville
on Dec 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm

I think it is a decent, make-sense idea!
It was a long process to get here. There was lots of input and consideration, not a quick decision.

The Unions were not pushing for this. This was not their agenda. In fact, it was possible that they would fight this idea, so their approval was necessary to obtain.

The biggest negative about this concept is that the Student's Start Date is in middle of August (Aug 15) which is still quite a nice weather month for family vacations.
I used to take the kids to Tahoe for the last week of August each year for a number of years....and some marvelous times. This would have interrupted that. But that tradition got interrupted (broken) by sports programs anyway, such as football training start times.
It's a tough call. Too bad they couldn't have bought a couple more days in August before the start date.

Remind me, what are Conference Days. Is that the Parent-Teacher Conferences? Does that always happen at night....or does that result in a week of reduced educational content and training hours for the students....or not?
Just asking.

The crucial job for parents now will be to make that Christmas break be a truly beneficial and productive time for each family. Somewhat of a burden for some.
Good luck with that!


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