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Comments Received from Alameda Regarding 2004/05 Calendar

For background, you can visit the following sites:

2004/05 Calendar

On December 10, 2003 I sent out an EMail explaining details about the development of the calendar.

Posted in reverse order of date received

Jan 20 Parent

I took a look at the 3 options that will be voted on for the 2004-2005 calendar year. Why can't we have the fall break in October? That was so ideal for most familes that I've talked to. I know that our family, and most familes we've talked to are still planning to take that last week in October from now on. So, does'nt it make sense to make everyone happy instead of the schools not getting paid by the state for children that are absent?

Jan 5 Parent

I am a parent of an xx 2nd grader and an 04-05 Kindergartner. I am disappointed to see that the three options for the 2004-2005 school calendar do not include the option of the Oct. Fall break. I think starting the school year earlier and offering a break in October is a wonderful way to break up the school year. Additionally it allows parents a vacation option that doesn't coincide with all the rest of the CA school vacation schedules, which I view as a benefit and helps reduce the likelihood of parents removing their kids from school for any number of days for a mid year vacation.

I am further disappointed to see that we are no where closer to the "modified" year round calendar. I believe shortening the long summer break helps the children stay on track and with today's current testing requirements this would invariably help boost test scores.

I recognize that I am perhaps addressing my comments to the wrong source and will make sure I pass them along to my PTA president and school site council, but I wanted to ensure my comments were on record at the district as well. Thank you.

Jan 5 Parent Option B

Thanks, these look good, I like the idea of the Thanksgiving week off!

Jan 4 Parent Option B

Thanks for keeping us up to date on this. I sure hope they decide soon regardless of which one they pick. If they have to get rid of an October break I guess I'd like the week off for Thanksgiving so I'd go for option B as choice 1 and the reviewed and approved one for choice 2 only because I think June 10th is too early in the summer for the last day of school.

Jan 3 Teacher

Comments from a teacher to the parents:

FACTS:

  1. Please be aware that in the past as now teachers have had very little to do with making the calendar.
  2. (Editor Note: Actually teachers play a significant role since they have the contractual right to negotiate the dates of a calendar as well as approve the final product of negotiations. See 2003/04 Calendar process as an example.

  3. Many teachers vote with student achievement in mind; however, what calendar would work best is certainly debatable.
  4. Teachers work a set number of days, so in any event how the calendar is set up is not a major issue for most of us.

OPINION:

Teaching and learning take a tremendous amount of energy, at least when done well. I know from experience that many teachers and students start to burn out after six or seven weeks straight. Certainly, the students level of performance begins to wane. The October break allows me as well as my students to get caught up and recharge. I know I end up doing more total work when the school year is more spaced out. Since doing a good job is important to me I don't mind, which is the same reason I tutor students before and after school.

I'm actually a proponent of an even shorter summer with more breaks scattered during the school year. Keep in mind the teachers would work the same number of days. I believe that I could do more and my students would learn more. However, even though I believe this would be best for K-12 education, I'm well aware there are other concerns such as summer jobs, family vacations and alignment of calendar with other districts. Please know that my opinion is not that of all or maybe even most teachers. Finally, please keep the original three FACTS in mind.

Jan 3 Parent

I would like to say for the record a Thanksgiving break is not the same as a Fall break. I for one avoid all possible travel that week, due to crowds and costs, whereas October, is the opposite travel scenario.

But I sense we are too far down the road for change for the 04 calendar, but hope that future calendars can take prior board commitments, teacher and parent preferences into account.

Jan 3 Parent

First a personal thank you to Mike McMahon for being so proactive in keeping the community informed on the BOE actions via his website and emails!

Secondly, I am writing to express dismay over the loss of the Fall break in all 3 proposed calendars. This was promised when the YRE schools were moved to traditional, the teachers have been in favor of it and every comment (except one) posted to date from parents is in favor of the Fall break. So, my question is why has it disappeared? I know all the reasons for and against.. but what is upsetting is that it is not even one of the options to be voted on!

Please listen to the community and the teachers, keep your promise to the former YRE'ers and reconsider having that option at least available for the vote.

Jan 3 Teacher

I appreciate your consistent efforts at keeping the lines of communication open with the members of AEA and the community. The recent developments in regards to the 04/05 calendar are very encouraging. I am very pleased with the options presented. Hopefully, the calendar issue will be settled in a timely manner so that we can focus on the contract between AEA & AUSD.

Jan 3 Parent

Do the District teacher's get paid while on Fall and Spring recess? Better still, can you tell me how many days the teacher's are paid per year, how many paid holidays they get, and do they accrue paid vacation and "sick" days? Its always been a mystery to me, that with fall recess, Christmas holday, spring recess, and summer break, how a teacher can possibly work a sufficiently amount of time to earn a living. It is very difficult to understand or appreciate the AUSD budget/ops. costs with all this time off. Where can I obtain information on teaching and administrative position salaries. Thank you in advance.

Jan 3 Parent

In the process of putting together the district's calendar, are the community colleges in our area, as well as the UC system's start calendars considered OR do they try to follow our "last day" and start accordingly? We have a number of high school students moving onto the UC system and community college system. Some of those are still high school students, looking to improve grades with college classes or more ahead. What happens to them if they are still in school when the college classes start? This could be a problem this year,as well.

Dec 31 Parent Option B

Thank you for asking us our opinion. I appreciate being able to give input in an informal way, without having to get out paper, print a letter, address and stamp it.

I also appreciate the effort that the committee made to come up with a three year calendar. Not knowing when the first day of school is until sometime in spring is difficult for those of us who have to coordinate our yearly vacation time from work in the first week of January. So this is a very good step and I am grateful to the board and the committee for trying to set three years in advance.

Nevertheless, I do have some concerns. The main one is that for 2005/2006 and after, having the winter break begin on a Tuesday is very strange. This means that only two weekends instead of three are included in the break, thus effectively shortening the vacation period by 3 calendar days, from 17 days to 14 days. I don't understand the committee's thinking on this at all. I am afraid that many people would just take the Monday off anyway, causing a big drop in revenue.

I am happy to have that October break eliminated, especially if it would allow for starting school close to or after Labor Day. We have never been able to take advantage of it for a vacation, because sports schedules, testing dates, and homework workload continue through it. As for the issue of those who would like to "go to Disneyland without the crowds", is this a legitimate reason to interrupt school so soon after the start date? Having grown up 10 minutes from Disneyland, I can say that most any *weekend* in October or November excepting Thanksgiving weekend, there are short lines and few crowds at the park. There is no need to miss school to go on such a short trip. Having been to Europe in October, I know that this is a lovely time to travel, but one week is not really enough to do much, and many things are closing for the season at this time.

I very much prefer that Alameda align its schedule more closely with the rest of the Bay Area, and that we have the maximum amount of time off during the traditional period in the summer, so that my family and my children can avail themselves of the MANY opportunities that present themselves in that time period: travel, summer camps, summer programs at universities, summer exchange programs, and even have the maximum time to hold summer jobs (college is not getting any cheaper). I think that the proposed calendars are a step in the right direction.

Please consider if possible starting school after Labor Day. AEA calendar proposal B fits our idea of what the calendar should look like perfectly.

I am a parent of students at xxxx Middle School and xxxx High School.

Dec 15 Parent

Does this teacher union realize that our primary purpose is to educate our children? They seem to have lost sight of what is important here! We are not here for the convenience and benefit of the teachers, but rather THEY should be here for the convenience and benefit of our children and community! I happen to LOVE our teachers at Bay Farm. But somewhere, somehow, we have become slaves to the teacher union! WE(you guys) should be making our calendar and THEY(the teachers) should adapt!!! My employer does not ask me which days Iíd like to work, rather, I am told! Anyway, thatís my two cents!

Dec 15 Parent

! was one of the Bay Farm parents that was adamantly opposed to the change away from year-round school schedule - I spoke at the Board meeting when the issue of a new calendar was first discussed, but to no avail - it was obvious that the Board had made up their mind ahead of time and were using the teacher's union agreement as a scapegoat for not doing as was promised to the parents - we have been promised now for 2 years that the district would compromise w/all parties involved with a modified or hybrid schedule - the draft schedule indicated for 04/05 is a giant step backwards, as it eliminates a legitimate fall break (one not centered around Thanksgiving) - it seems to me that the teacher's union is not sincere in making the calendar issue a collaborative decision, one that involves the wishes of the parents in equal measure -

Dec 15 Parent

My input re the 2004-2005 calendar adopted is that school starts so late that the Labor day break looms within the first week - and there again will be lots of families who will keep the students out for the week and actually start school after labor day. we've had this happen before!!

Dec 15 Parent

As a founding member of the calendar committee (back in 1999), and a YRE parent, I have watched this yearly process quite closely. Suffice to say I was disappointed to lose our YRE breaks in Oct and Feb, but thought we had come to some type of "compromise" with the one week in Oct. for 2003/2004.

To view all three of these calendars and see not even that is truly disappointing. For once I agree with the teachers. I think the board, and calendar committee has shown a lack of imagination, and has defaulted to a lame, traditional calendar- for what reason, I can't fathom. Even after watching the meetings on TV it is still unclear to me as a parent why the board is so hell-bent to elimate any semblence of YRE.

Dec 12 Parent I think its a hoot that now its the administration that has become so totally emeshed in a traditional calendar and that the teachers actually like the October break.

Dec 12 Teacher

I think it is fair to say that AEA did not contact nor ask the opinions of the membership before negotiating the calendar. I, like many of my colleagues, was waiting for a chance to develop an academic calendar in the spirit of our last negotiations as well as to support student educational needs. Last year I know my name was specifically mentioned by the Board President with her hope that I would be able to help develop an academically thoughtful calendar, with other teachers, parents who felt it was important to address learning units, conferences and meaningful breaks. Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to provide input, nor did we see any proposals, only the one to vote on...obviously it did not address the needs of many including many of our elementary schools. I would suggest that we build a calendar together around the needs of the students, perhaps consider the different perspective at the high schools, and develop a calendar that makes sense from a learning perspective. I would be happy to participate if asked.

Dec 12 Parent

I love the calendar for this school year(03/04), starting after Labor Day and having the last week of October off!!

Dec 11 Parent

I am baffled by this farce with the calendar.

I do not understand why school is going to start before Labor Day when the Board clearly stated that this is a period of low attendance and therefore low reimbursement that he was trying to avoid.

I can understand the concerns of the students and parents involved with sports and testing but I still prefer having a break in the fall.

The Wednesday day before Thanksgiving is a waste.

I do not think we need two weeks off in December/January. One would suffice., Considering that there is often a 3 month stretch without a break moving one of those weeks to February makes greater sense to me.

If there is a way of transmitting this message to the AEA I would like to know of it.

Thank You for your time in reading this.

Dec 11 Parent

I guess the promised "compromise" from year 'round to traditional turned out to be a lie. There is nothing that says "year 'round" on any calendar anywhere! I know it's not you're fault, but we all have very long memories and the next time a compromise is asked for or something offered in exchange for....

Dec 11 Parent

We are parents of an Edison child that would like to keep the October break in the schedule.

We have talked to other parents that feel the same way.

It appears the families who used to attend year-round schools don't get anything out of the proposed schedules. I thought we were working toward a compromise between year-round and traditional schedules. The proposals look pretty traditional to me.

Thanks once again for seeking our opinions.

Dec 10 Parent

I applaud the AEA membership for voting down the proposed calendar which excluded a fall break. In this day and age, where true family time is at a minimum, I think it is very important to keep our October break . Our hectic lives seem to work against family time between the long school day, homework, after school activities, work schedules and sports. Many families take this opportunity to get away together at a time when there are less crowds and tourists. I would strongly encourage all of you to revisit the calendar, taking into account the wants and needs of the families in our district and reinstate the fall break.

Dec 9 Parent

I am relieved that the three year calendar was voted down as I would like to see a fall break reinstated that allows families time off when the rest of California's schools are not on break. The opportunity to spend a week at Disneyland or in the Yosemite Valley without crowds is extremely important to many families in our district. Please reinstate a fall break back into the three year calendar before it goes to a vote.

   

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Last modified: December 15, 2003

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