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Comments Received from Alameda Regarding 2005/06 Calendar

For background, you can visit AUSD Calendar Process.

2004/05 school calendars from other school districts in Alameda County, can be reviewed as a composite calendar developed by Alameda County of Education.

Posted in reverse order of date received

Parent 11/23/04

I generally like this calendar, and have no problems with it. One suggestion, maybe for future years: Instead of having a Friday and a Monday off for the trimester, with the week after Easter Sunday also off, why not have a week off at trimester break, and the Friday before and Monday after Easter Sunday off instead of the whole week. For high school students, a late spring break coinciding with Easter Sunday is disruptive, because of the AP exams the first two weeks of May.

Thanks for taking all of our input earlier this year.

Parent 11/19/04

Frankly, I really don't care what the calendar is at this point,, just very IMPRESSED that you might get it passed prior to Jan... for that you are to be congratulated....

Parent 11/19/04

So now even the hybrid calendar is gone. The bad thing about term limits is now I can't vote against Anna Elefant and the group that took away year-round school anymore. I hold her 100% responsible for this (and a lot of other problems that we now have to fix). I was totally amazed when this subject first came up how the board blamed Chaconas for all of the mess saying that they "didn't know what he was doing" - that's the biggest cop out I've ever heard since the board is ultimately responsible and they weren't performing their duties, then they should have been recalled...anyway, term limits took care of all of them.

Parent 11/19/04

Thanks so much for the heads-up.

It is great to have a board member using technology to keep parents informed. The calendar below looks pretty sensible to me.

Parent 11/19/04

I know I have said this before, but it bears repeating. We moved to the Paden district because it offered a year round school. Before our daughter started school, that was eliminated, but they retained a fall break in November. We wanted the year round, but were glad we had at least a fall break for our family to enjoy.

This year, our fall break has become an extended Thanksgiving...not as ideal, but we are still pleased to have a real break in the first half of the year.

Next year, we have the standard school calendar. The spring months are loaded with 4 day weekends, and a spring break, while the fall has Halloween as a day off (do not even get me started on that...) and the traditional holidays.

I still wish we had year round and in lieu of that, I still wish we had a real fall break.

Thank for letting me express my opinion.

Parent 11/19/04

Wow. While I have small questions about the calendar, they pale in light of my happpiness that there IS a calendar! Thanks for your hard work.

Parent 10/9/04

Thank you for inviting us to comment. We are parents of a high school and middle school student.

General comments:

The calendar should not be something negotiated every year. Take it out of the agreement with AEA.

We would like to have a consistent calendar every year, so we could plan ahead.

We need to know what the following year's calendar looks like by December the previous year, e.g. by December 2004 for the 2005-6 school year as that is when we have to decide our vacations at work.

Also, we do not support starting earlier in August to match East Coast schools. They have always been earlier than us to go back to school in the fall. As parents of a high school student who has taken and passed several AP exams, we know that there is always AP summer homework. The summer homework can take into account the difference in schedules. In general, we prefer fewer miscellaneous days off and breaks and the longest possible time free of school in the summer.

Specifically for 2005-6:

  1. Start either September 1 or the day after Labor Day. Please don't start in August. This is traditional vacation time in California.
  2. October break-- when we had one it seemed very disruptive to learning continuity and was an odd time to be off for a vacation. Many things are closed late in October and it is too early for snow in California. Don't do this again.
  3. Break around the Thanksgiving holiday-- is more logical than October as there has been more time in school before breaking, but is really of no value to us for a holiday as it is too difficult to travel this week. The winter break is very soon after anyway.
  4. Winter break: prefer 12/16-1/2 off; however, I would go with whatever other school districts do in our area as it does not matter that much to us which of the two week periods one picks. From the combined calendar published for this year, it seems as if every district in our area took the same holiday, and we think this is the most important thing for the winter break as otherwise we will be on different schedules for sports, etc.
  5. Spring break: We prefer that the 4-day Lincoln and Washington birthday holiday should not be turned into a week break, as it is another very overcrowded time to travel and it is so soon after winter break. We also see no need to link a spring break with the Christian holiday. This year it seems as if it is coincidentally a good time, the end of March, about midway through the spring. We would tend to follow whatever practice the other schools in the area have for spring break, but if we could make it the same week every year, that would be excellent. Perhaps the week after the second trimester for the elementary schools would work.
  6. We generally prefer less breaks during the school year to extend the summer as long as possible. It does not matter to us June 9 or June 16, unless the local community college summer school has started before June 16, in which case we prefer June 9.

Thank you again for asking for comments.

Parent 9/29/04

At the high schools, we ran into a real problem with the late end date -- we overlapped the beginning of summer session at the Community Colleges by a week. Many, many students take summer classes at the CC's for a variety of reasons, all of them pretty pressing. I bore witness to my Senior ELD students needing to enroll in English Language classes during the summer so they could have access to other classes come fall.

In light of this, I say we need to end school on June 9th and arrange holidays/breaks accordingly. (In fact, since I am not a Christian and we are meant to have separation of church and state, let me underscore that it would be inappropriate to arrange winter break around Christmas needs if it impacts the end date of school negatively: our first priority is for the students' education).

Parent 9/29/04

I like the mid-week start. I think it eases the kids back into the routine.

I would much prefer the October break and do not yet have an opinion on the Thanksgiving break.

I prefer the first option for the winter break getting them back on Jan 2. 2nd choice would be Jan 4 return.

June 9 would be a nice date to end the year.

Thanks for asking!

Parent 9/27/04

As a parent who has had 3 children in the AUSD, starting in 1984, I've seen many changes, some good, some bad. I wish a calendar would be agreed upon once and for all, without these constant changes. As a single parent, it has been very difficult and expensive for me to get daycare every time there is a Staff Days, which, BTW, has gotten WAY out of hand. I am open to either the Thanksgiving Holiday or October Break as I see pluses and minuses for both. As for Xmas..last day 12/22/04 returning 1/2/05.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to voice my opinions.

Teacher 9/26/04

I have a simple clarification for you as far as start days when a holiday falls on a weekend. A holiday credit day would be the previous Friday or the following Monday. This is standard in the business. Therefore, an option on the start day after the winter break would most likely be on a Tuesday. This could change the ending date in June. I understand that you are trying to get community feedback. As you know, the nuances that fall between the start of school, holidays and the end of school are quite complicated.

Parent 9/24/04

  1. Midweek start worked well this year and gets my vote. Some folks may have a hard time getting childcare for just 2 days.
  2. We (elementary school parents) liked the fall break. Since we haven't had the Thanksgiving week break yet, it is hard to tell, but I think it might be good, but it also very close to the Winter break, so might be disruptive - only 3 weeks until the winter break. If we don't take a fall break, how does that affect the overall schedule? Do we get out 3 days earlier?
  3. My husband says keep the Thanksgiving break; I 'm not sure!

    Winter break: in order of preference: 1(12/16), 3(12/23), 2(12/20)

  4. End date: no preference

Parent 9/21/04

I do not like the Thanksgiving Break. I do not travel during that week due to pricey airfares and crowds. If I were to travel at that time of year, I would probably pull the kids out of school during the preceding week of Parent Conferences. That Parent Conference week is such a winding down time because of the shortened days that I don't think the kids would miss much.

I really want to see the October Break reinstated. - No loss of ADA for travel.

I think Christmas Break should be two full weeks or you will lose students to travel extensions.

Starting school before Labor Day is just fine. Why not go the full week before Labor Day?

Thank you for soliciting input.,/p>

Parent 9/21/04

  1. Start Date - prefer earliest start - especially when kids are in High School. If possible complete 1st Semester before December break.
  2. Breaks Thanksgiving - is ADA mainly impacted the Wed before, or all three days - (Mon, Tue, Wed)? Personal preference would be only Wed off, assuming ADA impact is mainly Wednesday. Winter Break - 12/16 too early, 12/23 too late - prefer option 3 (12/20).
  3. End Date - definitely June 9 - Mid June is too late!

Thank you for soliciting input.

Parent 9/21/04

First of all I would like one set calendar that is consistent from year to year!!! Start date preferred would be after Labor Day, otherwise August 31st, Wednesday. Our family really loved and took advantage of the October Break, and would prefer that over a week off at Thanksgiving. Winter Break I prefer ending Friday, Dec. 16th. School year ending June 16th, if the next start date is later in August or after Labor Day.

Parent 9/21/04

Thanks for asking for parental input. I would prefer option #2 for the winter break (end on the 23rd, return on the 9th). Our family does not utilize the Thanksgiving week for travel, so I don't feel strongly about having a week off then. An option might be to just have the Wed prior to Thanksgiving off to allow families to leave early without missing school. I'm open about start date - it's nice to start on Wed so the first week isn't a full week, but either way is workable. I would like to see us end the school year on June 9...so many of the breaks are in the beginning of the year, it makes for a long stretch after spring break.

Parent 9/20/04

Thank you for seeking community input. The school calendar should not be a part of teacher negotiations. The first priority should be placed on academic needs, i.e.. testing schedule, summer school dates, semester breaks.

The mid-week start (full days) with a 3 day weekend to look forward to was an easy transition from summer.

Look to balance the student breaks throughout the year:

When the Thanksgiving week break was confirmed last spring, I immediately tried to book a vacation. Airline tickets that go for $300. any other time were already over $1,000. per person. The weather here is no vacation, there's rarely snow in the Sierras during the Thanksgiving, and the 2 week Christmas break is only weeks away, four days off is enough.

Combine the two President's days into a full week break or at least schedule the days on a Thursday and Friday. We've chosen to take this week off for years and unfortunately miss 4 days of school. Can you ask parents, teachers, staff where they would rank a late February break.

The Winter Recess should start on a Friday (Dec. 16) and in most years, students should return on a Monday. Option #3 is a fine compromise but I'd be surprised if it gets many votes.

Linking the spring recess to the week after Easter means it can occur any time from late March to Mid-April . Pick a week in April that works with the academic needs and stick with it.

Don't let school go beyond mid June. Alameda students are the last to finish. I object most strongly to the activities of the last week. Text books are collected with a full week of school remaining. The final week was mostly half days and had no academic purpose.

Good luck!

Parent 9/20/04

START DATE - We like the idea of starting mid week (29th) eases teachers and students into the new year and doesn't keep kids there full first week if we happen to have another end of summer heat wave.

BREAKS - We are putting our vote in for the mid October break even if it's not going to happen If we start the kids in the last week of Aug. I think mid Oct. is an ideal time for a break (during the Columbus Day week). This is approximately 6 weeks into school and a good time for kids to take a breather. A few more weeks and they get the shorter Thanksgiving break, then 3-4 more weeks and the holiday break. It makes it similar to the British shcool year which is something like 6 weeks on, one week off, 6 weeks on, two weeks off and so on throughout the year and further into the summer. I much prefer lengthening the school year, shortening the summer gap and giving more breaks throughout the year. I know this position won't pass the teacher's union or many of the families, but we want to voice our preference.

Our daughter has been assigned to summer school both in kindergarten and after second grade. Reading is our challenge. Our first grade teacher said she was a little behind, but that the "light bulb would come on soon." In second grade we were still hoping for the "light bulb" and work with her teacher to see if we could find the switch. She has been in the intervention program, I can read program, been psychologicaly tested and worked with a tutor. The school curriculm has continued to morph over the years and there continues to be greater and greater requirements on the kids. I know our daughter, and others she's been in summer school with would benefit greatly if there wasn't such a long summer gap so they could better retain the gains from the past year and build on them in the next without so much re-learning at the beginning at each year.

CHRISTMAS/NEW YEARS BREAK - I like maximizing the time in between the breaks ie: between the Thanksgiving hoiday's and the Christmas break. With that in mind our order of preference is the following:

  • School ends on Friday, December 23rd and goes back on Monday, January 9th.
  • School ends on Tuesday, December 20th and goes back on Wednesday, January 4th.
  • School ends on Friday, December 16th and goes back on Monday, January 2nd. (least prefered)
  • ENDING - For reasons stated above we prefer ending later rather than sooner, preference June 16th.

    Thanks for the opportunity to give input.

    Parent 9/20/04

    October Fall break works well for us. It allows us to travel without pulling the kids out of school. Thanksgiving week off is the pits. Everyone is traveling during that time so it doesn't substitute for the fall break vacation. Please bring the October break back.

    Starting school on a Wednesday was great for us. It allowed the kids to ease back into the routine. Orientation at the Middle School and problems could be worked out Monday and Tuesday before school started.

    Xmas break: the 16th - Jan 2 is probably the schedule most other districts would follow. So people working in other districts would appreciate their kids being on the same vacation schedule, however, going back on the 9th allows for more vacation time when there would be fewer crowds...which would be great.

    Thanks for asking for feedback.

    Parent (HS) 9/20/04

    Start date: I thought the start mid-week before Labor Day this year was great. It got the kids back into school and into the routine and then they were organized and ready to learn after returning from the Labor Day holiday. Also, it is a way to ease them back into school with the 3 day week and then a 4 day week of the Labor day holiday.

    Breaks: I think the sooner the Winter break starts, the better so I would like the 12/16 end date and the 1/2 resume date. An end date of 12/23 would have too many absences. And I agree with other feedbacks that we need to get away from linking the Spring break with the Easter holiday. If anything, have the Friday before Easter off, but put the Spring date where the course curriculum ends--early March would be nice. The only problem with tying the spring break in with the Lincoln's and President's day holidays is that a lot of other schools have "ski week" then, so vacation spots may be crowded. But I would vote for a week in February over a week around Easter for Spring break.

    End date: June 9th, NOT June 16th. June 16th is way too late and everyone else is already out of school. Also, it is a problem for the high school students who want to attend summer school at the community college or work a summer job.

    And to second another parent's opinion--we need to have the calendar approved MUCH earlier than March of the new school year, and approving a calendar that would last for 3 or 4 years would be much better. It is very difficult to schedule "big" vacations when you don't know when the start and ending dates are until March of that year, and you're trying to coordinate with other family members and/or friends with other school schedules. Ideally, it would be nice to know what the new school schedule is at least by Thanksgiving of the previous year.

    Thanks for giving the community the opportunity to express their opinion on this controversial subject!

    Teacher 9/20/04

    I have a couple of thoughts on the calendar. The early start date is very important to AP classes, as many schools East of the Mississippi have started at least 3 weeks before us, and AP teachers have to race to finish and leave adequate time for review. The later we wait the worse it is. The one year when we started early was really perfect. It is also important to regular students, as teachers need to cover the curriculum prior to mid-April when all students are given standardized tests like the CAT-6 and the California Standards Test. For instance, high school history teachers have to race to at least get through the "Cold War" unit (20% of the test) prior to April, and leave enough time for review. As to the mid-Winter break - I like Dec. 16, and start again on Jan. 2. After all, it's a new year and a new start. Finally, we should get out as early as possible in June.

    Parent 9/20/04

    Thank you for the invitation to parents to comment on the 2005/6 school calendar. My husband and I spoke at length about the questions you proposed.

    Before we respond to those, however, we would like to make a couple of general comments and suggestions. It is very disruptive to our family life to have the school calendar negotiated every year, especially when it's not resolved until late winter or spring. In fact, we wish that the calendar wasn't a negotiated item. We don't think that the calendar should be treated like a labor issue. The decision should be made based on how to create an optimal learning environment for the students. However, because the calendar is currently a negotiated item, we would like to make the following suggestions:

    • We would like the school calendar to last multiple years, e.g. 3-5 years, to create continuity from year to year.
    • We would like the calendar finalized and published in December. We need to make our vacation requests for 2005 in December 2004. We both experience negative consequences when we adjust our requests after December.
    • We encourage the Board to question assumptions and consider creative solutions. For instance, why not have only a one week break around Christmas and New Years? Why not break for a week on two separate occasions between the last day of school and the Christmas break?
    • Why does the calendar continue to revolve around Christian holidays? Why not space out vacations throughout the school year?

    We know that these ideas are challenging some long-standing traditions that aren't being examined. We expect that it will not be easy to change these traditions. However, we urge you to bring them up for consideration.

    Now, in regard to your specific questions:

  • We suggest that school start on Monday, Aug 29.
  • We would like the week off at Thanksgiving only if the Christmas/New Years break is limited to one week.
  • For the Christmas/New Years break, we would like the break to begin Dec. 23; our second choice is for it to begin Dec 16th.
  • Thank you very much for listening!

    Parent 9/20/04

    My response to the proposed calendar for next year are as follows:

    1. We should start Monday, August 29.
    2. Attendance problem could be resolved if we kept the Thanksgiving week off. A lot of families takes advantage of the long weekend and pulls their kids out of school a few days before the Thanksgiving bread, so yes, I would like to keep the fall break during Thanksgiving.
    3. December 16, through January 2nd is my preference.

    Thanks for keeping us posted.

    Teacher 9/20/04

    I teach at xxx High School.

    End date - something we didn't know until it was too late last time around! Please check to see when the community colleges begin their summer session. When these colleges start summer school prior to our end date in June, like last year, it caused problems for our students who were still taking finals during the first week of their summer sessions. It sounds strange, but we might want to look at the end of the year, first, and go backwards to see when we should begin.

    Staff 9/20/04

    1. Wednesday, August 31st
    2. Have the day before Thanksgiving off only. For Winter break, Option 2 (12/23) -3 (12/20) -1 (12/16) in that order
    3. June 9th

    Teacher 9/20/04

    I’ve always been in support of structuring calendars around student learning…not around holidays and personal vacation plans. However it seems our dialogue always returns to trying a fit a calendar around holidays. Understanding that I do have some thoughts with educational focus in mind.

    The week of holiday at Thanksgiving falls right after conferencing this year…at least at the elementary level. This is a natural break at the end of a learning unit. I would like to continue this practice as it is a break which signals a new learning session will begin shortly.

    Tying the start of school to Labor Day is really based on a calendar holiday weekend. This year we started back before the holiday and still managed to remember to celebrate the day….I think it is time to start school when we determine we are ready…..and our students shared with us that they were more than eager to return to school. I’d love to start back the second or third week of August to get training for teachers finished and a jump on the new school year.

    As for breaks during the year….the time between March and June becomes longer and longer every year…..If we were to determine our week breaks to be at the end of learning cycles it would be so much better for both students and teachers….I still do not understand the significance of a week off tied to Easter Sunday…..couldn’t we structure a week off at the end of the conference week and help to break up the calendar into workable learning sessions?

    The winter break I understand has to do with travel for the holidays…..I would prefer to be out to allow travel before the crunch so the earlier break at the 16th would be preferable. Coming back later in January doesn’t really help anyone in terms of travel back, when most are back at work after the new year holiday anyway.

    I would love a balanced educational calendar…..so if we start a little earlier, we will get out a little earlier…..and a more balanced calendar will help us edge into an educational calendar for year long learning

    Parent 9/20/04

  • Start: Wed Aug 31
  • Breaks: I prefer Thanksgiving break to October break. Christmas: no opinion.
  • End date: June 16!!!!!
  • Staff 9/20/04

    My recommendation, then and now, is to look at historical attendance data.

    We have similar discussions every 7 years as the date that Labor Day falls on and the day of the week that Christmas falls on rotate. Why is it that we don't have a long enough memory to learn from the ADA data in the previous seven year cycle?

    If we can't access attendance data going back that far, I bet there is someone who handles the data who knows. Bob Reeves probably also knows.

    Teacher 9/20/04

    1. Start midweek. I am interested to see how much ADA we lose by starting before Labor Day. A midweek start is a good way to break kids in and I suspect we will lose less ADA.
    2. #1 (12/16) option first
    3. I love the Thanksgiving week break and a June 16 end of year is fine.

    Parent 9/20/04

  • Not clear why we have to start before Labor Day, but if so, prefer Wednesday, Aug 31.
  • 1st preference (12/16) 2nd preference (12/20) 3rd preference (12/23)
  • Teacher 9/19/04

    Thanks for soliciting comments. For what its worth, here are some (personal, not claiming to represent anyone else or any group) thoughts on the issues/questions you raised in your email about the calendar:

    Start Date

    The earlier the better. The earlier we start, the earlier we end. Consequently, an earlier start means more school time before spring assessments such as CAT 6 and AP tests. With regard to the AP tests in particular, since the date of those tests is fixed nationally, every day later we begin the year is an additional day's DISadvantage to our students taking those tests. The curricular demands of AP tests are so great that even a few days difference can be significant. In the event that there is a fall break or Thanksgiving break, the importance of starting early is particularly important. For AP classes, the four weeks of school after those are "lost" days (in terms of exam preparation). Our relatively late start and late finish essentially takes a week or so of AP learning away. Similar arguments can be made for the CAT6 test, the high school exit exam, and any other "high stakes" spring testing.

    An earlier start/end also avoids the unfortunate situation we had in the '03-'04 year when the very late end of the year date resulted in some problems/challenges at the high school level such as (1) having our finals week overlap with the beginning of summer school at the College of Alameda so that many students had to decide between going to their first college classes (necessary to secure enrollment) or take final exams (necessary to pass) and (2) every other high school kid in the Bay Area being out for summer except ours, making maintaining student focus on school more difficult than usual.

    Many/most districts in our areas are now starting (and ending) well before us. (Parochial schools also start and end significantly earlier.) Accordingly, the argument that enrollment will be low at the beginning of the year because folks won't know school is starting is pretty unconvincing. Everyone else seems to be going back August 24 25 26ish. If we are in that "pack," people in Alameda will know school is starting and will show at the same rates as they do now. Monday 8/29 is actually too late to start in my view. We should be aiming for the Wednesday before that, when many other districts will be starting. (For example, this year, Piedmont started on 8/25.) We should start on 8/24.

    An earlier start date may impact the transition to and from summer school at the high school level, but of course if the beginning and end of summer school schedule were shifted "back" proportionally to start however much earlier the school year started, there wouldn't be any net change in the transition time.


    It may that the return of the fall break is unlikely, but I still want to correct a misunderstanding of opinions on the merits of a fall break. The misconception is that the fall break was popular at the elementary level and unpopular at the high school level. It is true that high school sports participants and their coaches face the most hardship with the fall break (i.e., they effectively aren't able to take that break so as a practical matter their work year is extended by a week). It is also true that some AP teachers in high schools are opposed to the fall break because it reduces the number of class days before the AP tests (as discussed above.)

    Still, my impression (not based on scientifically valid random samples, but I still think correct) is that a LARGE MAJORITY of high school teachers are in favor of the break and probably would be willing to start earlier in order to get it. For college bound juniors and seniors, it is a great opportunity for college visits.

    I can't offer an informed opinion on the merits of the Thanksgiving Week break since we haven't yet done it. It seems to be less popular than the October Break.

    Another idea which I favor would be to have a week off in February rather than October. If Lincoln and President's Days were moved onto the same week, that week off only "costs" three school days, as our Thanksgiving Week does this year. In other words, to get a "week break" for students at Thanksgiving and/or February, the year's start date only has to be moved by three days rather than five days with an October break. Interestingly, Piedmont has managed for the past few years to have full week breaks for students at Thanksgiving (placing staff development on two of the days) AND in February. One rationale for such an arrangement is that attendance will be better throughout the year because families will schedule their vacations then and not pull students out of school at other times.

    I don't know if such a calendar is "do-able" in Alameda, but I don't see why it wouldn't be. Here's a link to a page with a link to a pdf file with Piedmont's schedule: http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/calendar/september.html

    Winter Break

    My own view is that the Winter Break has to go from a Saturday through a Sunday and that mid-week starts or ends risk big attendance problems on both of the "short weeks." Also, since more people travel for Christmas than for New Years, my view is that the break should always begin at least three days before Christmas. So, for '05 I think 12/16 should be the last day of school. I'd expect a lot of absenteeism on Friday December 23rd if we have school that day.

    Of course, there is no way to please everyone with a calendar. Thanks for asking for input.

    Parent 9/19/04

    1. Start Date Aug. 29th
    2. I love the Thanksgiving Week break!
    3. My first preference for the Holiday break is to have it from Wed. 23rd to Tues. the 3rd, Second 23rd to the 9th
    4. Last day June 9th.

    Thanks for listening to my choices!

    Parent 9/18/04

    We like the Wed. Aug. 31st start date, the #2 (12/23) for Winter break, or #3 (12/20)...# 1 (12/16) would be our last choice. So, would like school to end June 16th.

    Teacher 9/18/04

    Does starting date mean for teacher or student? 8/31 would be my choice for two days of staff development and teacher meetings, one day, the third one, for a teacher workday to set up rooms and work with class lists and curriculum, and start the kids on Monday. I have no trouble with working the Monday/Tuesday of Thanksgiving. Winter break could be the 16th, but that's awfully early. I would not mind going until the 21st and starting back on Tuesday 1/3 for students, Monday 1/2 a workday for teachers to align finals. We need to get out June 9th. Last year was such a hassle with high school kids starting college courses and taking finals at the same time. The last day of school needs to be only for teachers to grade after finals, clean up, and attend to graduation. It is crazy to have us try to have students till 12:30 although they have completed all finals, and be at graduation at 3 and have grades in by 3:00.

    I do not understand why the elemnetary/middle schools and the high school all have to be on identical schedules like a 5 year old has the same needs as a 16 year old. The past three years of calendars were approved with no highschool vote, but even if the highschool had voted, the numbers of highschool teachers can not compete with the number of elementary teachers. Our needs really are different. I have always felt that the semester should finish before winter break so that break is truly a break for both students and teachers. The end of the year has to work with the local junior colleges and jobs.

    Teacher 9/18/04

    Thanks for requesting input on the calendar. First and foremost, I believe the school board and/or district should do absolutely everything to take the calendar out of the bargaining pool. I do not feel that it serves the families, kids, or district to have it be a bargaining chip. What we need (finally) is a standardized calendar that serves the needs of as many people as possible.

    I personally would like to see a calendar similar to Bishop O'Dowd's. That would mean an earlier start in mid-August, and a earlier exit in late May, early June. The semester could be over before winter break, so the kids could actually have and enjoy a break with their families. I would also untie the damn (excuse my language) spring break to Easter. That is absolutely ridiculous!! It serves no purpose and should be eliminated. Instead, it should be at the midway point of the second trimester. By ending school a little earlier, the older kids would be able to get an earlier start on summer jobs and families could get an earlier start on vacations (should they desire.)

    You can definitely tell from my input, I am now coming from an older student point of view. Finally, I'd like to suggest that instead of a week off at Thanksgiving (which I really do not mind) I would like to see us off on that Wednesday and then have a couple more three and/or four day weekends strategically planned out. I'm seeing a lot of burn out amongst students, teachers and principals and I think having a couple longer weekends would better serve all.

    Teacher 9/18/04

    Start Date: Wednesday is a VERY easy way to transition for teachers, students and administrators. But let's give teachers the final day before school for personal preparation rather than in-servicing them - it's hard to concentrate when you're thinking about the first day of school, and it leaves teachers no time for reflection upon what they might have just been taught. Going back after Labor Day then is not as traumatic and it lets everyone regroup for the second week of school.

    Break:With no October break, a Thanksgiving break is theraputic, and provide for necessary travel. The Winter break is better later -- option three (12/20) seem best -- who will coome for one day of school before a break? Also -- a bit longer stretch will make it easier to return to a groove so soon after the Thanksgiving week.

    Once back, it's easier to go a bit later into June, no?

    I hope that this feedback provides a few morsels for thought.

    Parent 9/18/04

    I'd like to keep the week off at Thanksgiving; have a Monday start date, leave for Christmas vacation on the 16th and end school on june 16th. Any time off during the year that our family can get is very helpful for us!

    Parent 9/18/04

    Thanks for instituting this discussion.

  • I think starting on Wednesday, 8/31 (mid-week) is a better way to start off school. It's easier to acclimate starting school with a short week.
  • I think the one week Thanksgiving break is too long. We should eliminate the Monday and Tuesday and go back to a two days of school that week. We could add those 2 extra days either together or separately to make some other short weeks throughout the year (particularly in a month (or months) where we usually don't have a break (like March or October).
  • I would prefer an end date of June 9th.
  • Staff 9/17/04

    Please coordinate the school calendar with the college summer schedule to enable students who wish to take summer classes to do so without conflict.

    Parent 9/17/04

    1. Start Date Starting mid-week is a joke (i know several parents who skipped out) - also for those of us w/younger kids and 2 working parents, none of the camps were open for Mon/Tue of this year.
    2. Breaks Last year's fall break was an attempt at appeasing those of us who still pine for the year-round schedule. The drawback was that you were in school for about 8 weeks and then had a break, just when the kids were getting back in the rhthym of things - haven't lived throught the T-week break yet for this year, but in theory i like it better,
    3. I could live with either option 1 (12/16) or 2 (12/23). Again, mid-week starts are hard on use 2-working parent households.

    4. End Date This past year (June 2004) was too late, so i would prefer the 9th.

    Staff 9/17/04

    I would prefer to link our (high school) calendar with the College of Alameda. In fact, I would like our students to end the first semester prior to Winter Break. I would eliminate any fall breaks and the winter break could be longer then it is presently.

    The 2nd semester would start after winter break. Spring break would be mid semester (after the 3rd quarter). The school year would end the 2nd week of June enabling out students (all high school students) to attend the summer session @ the Peralta Colleges.

    Additionally, I have come to believe we (high school) can be on a slightly different schedule then elementary and middle schools.

    Parent 9/17/04

    Thanks for asking for input. These are my personal choices, based on 3 years of experience in elementary schools and my personal understanding of parent needs. If you want me to survey a broader range of parents at my school let me know.

    1. Slight preference for 8/31, however 8/29 is fine. I know a lot of working parents would LOVE for you to start 8/29 as daycare is hard to find for those two days.
    2. a)Thanksgiving thoughts: I like the week off. If not in October, then at least by November the kids will need a break. Very family-oriented (and not religious-oriented) holiday seems right for a break.
    3. Winter Break: Order of preference: 3 (12/20),1 (12/16) ,2 (12/23)

    4. Much prefer June 9th if it is possible based on above.

    Parent 9/17/04

    First of all thank you very much for taking the time to ask and retrieve our opinion. It is truly appreciated. Here is my response:

    1. Start - like 2004/05 calendar
    2. Order of preference 2(12/23),3 (12/20),1 (12/16)
    3. 6/9/06

    Parent 9/17/04

    Thanksgiving break is a very good idea. School ending on the 16th back on the 2nd sounds great. Thanks for all your work and allowing our input.

    Teacher 9/16/04

    Start Date - I thought the mid week start was a bad idea however, as the parent of a new Kindergartner, I think it is a humane way to ease them into something very challenging (for kid, parent and K teachers). I realize it is not necessarily a good idea to base a calendar around one grade level but it is food for thought.

    Breaks I think it is a great idea to have the break. The data on staff absences should be looked at this year following the week long break. B/C so many people have such a long distance to travel for this short holiday break, does giving more time decrease the number of subs needed? As a family who misses the year round calendar, this week is sort of a small consolation prize.

    Option 3 (12/20) This is the best in our opinion. It does not keep kids/staff in school up to the last minute, increasing the likelyhood of increased absences due to travel and of course SHOPPING!

    End Date Which ever one allowed for a more practical holiday break.

    Teacher 9/16/04

    Having worked in private industry for 9 years prior to becoming a teacher, I see the AUSD work year for teachers as simply a 185 day work year. 185 days is 185 days. That being said, I have no real emotional attachment to any particular calendar. However, in my 10 years of teaching, I have noticed trends and patterns tied to absenteeism among my students which may be a consideration when we are looking at ADA. Many families do go on vacation around Labor Day. Some take an extra day for Memorial Day weekend. I haven't noticed any extra absenteeism around the Thanksgiving holidays at my school (Lum), but it may be an issue at other sites. It is true that many elementary school parents did like the October break, but I understand that it wasn't popular at the middle and high school sites. I had many parents at Lum that planned out of state (and out of country) family visits at that time to take advantage of off-season flight rates.

    I can't really say how I feel about the week of Thanksgiving since we haven't experienced it yet.

    I don't have any preference on starting and ending dates and I don't really see any real pros & cons between the choices you mentioned.

    The only real word of caution I want to share with your is that the winter break should have school end on a Friday and begin on a Monday. Doing any beginning and ending midweek will CERTAINLY result in high absenteeism with our students which means $$$ out the AUSD window. Ending on Dec 16 & beginning on Jan 2nd or ending on Dec 23 and beginning on Jan 9th are both reasonable choices that would not seem to impact AUSD financially.

    Parent 9/16/04

    Here are my thoughts (thanks for asking all of us!).

    1. Start Date: Monday, August 29th...midweek is "icky"
    2. Breaks: Thanksgiving Week off is heaven, #2 is my choice ~ Vacation from 12/23 - 1/9
    3. End Date: JUNE 9th. PLEASE confer with the Peralta College District and UC System as to when their Summer Sessions begin.

    Teacher 9/16/04

    I prefer to start after Labor Day, neither dates appeal to me.

    As for the Christmas break, I prefer Dec. 16-Jan 2

    End June 16th

    Why must we start prior to Labor Day. Many students do not return to school until then. We lose ADA money each day they do not attend.

    I prefer the October break. We shall see how the week at Thanksgiving works out.

    Teacher 9/16/04

    Thanks for the chance to share my thoughts on the calendar.

    • start date- wed, aug. 29th
    • looking forward to the thanksgiving break, let's do it again
    • winter break from 12/16 to 1/2
    • end of 6/9 or 6/16

    Teacher 9/16/04

    1. Having students the 3 days before Labor Day weekend worked. We covered Rules and got to know each other. Then the Tuesday after Labor Day we started Instruction. The first student week being a 4 day week was good. The kids were sleepy.
    2. The Thanksgiving break seems good now. But, let's go through it and see. I didn't vote for it originally, but let's see.
    3. I think that the Winter Break should return students to on the first Monday in January. This would be Jan. 2nd. That means getting out on Dec 16th. Much closer to Christmas and the kids will be gone anyway. I have lots of Asian students who return to China and leave mid-December.
    4. Spring Vacation should not be attached to Easter. I think we should split the time between the Jan 2 and end of school date. It is a long stretch without breaks except the Spring break.
    5. End of school - depends on start dates. I usually end class instruction by June 2st and then have 8-10 days of sex education.

    Parent 9/16/04

    Thanks for this informal poll of our opinion.

    As a working parent that requires childcare, it is very difficult for me to have the school year start midweek. No one offers child care for only two days and this requires me to take the time off (without pay) to mind my child.

    I am undecided about the fall break.

    I am for option one for the winter break (School ends on Friday, December 16th and goes back on Monday, January 2nd). I think this would allow more people to travel before the rush. I think you will get alot of differing opions on this one. Good luck.

    Parent 9/16/04

  • START MID-WEEK. It's easier for the students to transition. They just get too exhausted going for a full week right off the bat.
  • 1st Preference: End Tues. and Re-start Wed.
  • End Dec. 23 and go back Jan. 9.

  • No preference for an end date.
  • Parent 9/16/04

    I have children at all 3 levels of school. We like the October break but understand the problems- it is a good week for families to travel, students to look at colleges, etc. We would like a calendar communicated decision earlier than March- many of us need to make plans sooner- does this have to be renegotiated ever year- why can’t we just pick a schedule and stay with it so families can plan.

    You probably know, the late end of school date in June caused problems for students taking classes at the College of Alameda- since our last week of school overlapped with their first week of summer session. EHS was very accommodating but it is worth thinking about. The Wednesday start before Labor Day is ok- it gives Monday and Tuesday for registration, etc. and then a short week for students getting adjusted to new schools, schedules, etc.

    Parent 9/16/04

    1. Why is it a given that we need to start BEFORE Labor Day? Why not start the day after?
    2. Presuming I'm spitting in the wind, it makes more sense to me to start on the MONDAY. I think we will loose too much if we start on a Wednesday, especially if those are minimum days.

    3. #1 (12/16)
    4. 16th - a nice long year!

    Teacher 9/16/04

    All I can tell you about the calendar is that starting before Labor Day is absolutely insane. The district loses ADA, family trips are canceled or shortened, students at different levels have different schedules, and absences are always high, meaning teachers have to let students catch up, resulting in bored and belligerent students. Shorten the fall break if you have to, which is an irrelevant period for teachers anyway since it comes so close to the beginning of the school year that teachers don't care about it and parents don't want it. What in the world stands between this district and common sense?

    Other than that, I don't know a single teacher who cares in any way about the calendar, as we are all totally frustrated with constant changes and this ridiculous early start.

    But...thanks for at least asking.

    Staff 9/16/04

    The key is to have school end so high school students can take classes at the college. This is particularly critical at a time when budget cuts mean that summer school is only at the "catch up" level. The days at Thanksgiving week are nice but not if the price is an overlap between high school and college ... unless the district wants to allow all high schools to have ASTI's calendar to coincide with the college.

    Staff 9/16/04

    My comments as a school staff member

    1. a start date closest to Labor Day will get us the maximum number of students who have returned from family vacation (Wed. 8/31). Mid week start does not seem to be as big an issue as the proximity to Labor Day.
    2. First choice would be to end on 12/20 and return on 1/4, reason being that families that have to travel over the holidays cause the us to lose ADA if we close school too close to the 24th. Same for beginning well after New Years since many families go skiing and do not return the day after New Years. Second choice would be be the 12/16 till 1/2- but it's a poor second.
    3. End of school 6/16

    I think it only makes sense to work with the realities of family plans and craft a schedule that maximizes our potential ADA.

    Parent 9/16/04

    Thanks for even asking.

    I know this about the money, either maximizing ADA or dealing with the union.

    Given that my thoughts are:

    1. Start date: Not a priority. Use this to make other things work better.
    2. I was one of the parents who very much liked the October break. I also know that other schools set up a break in Feb./March to deal with the very long period of Jan/Feb/March/most of April without a break (except the long weekend in Feb.)
    3. Some districts call this a ski week I am told and do it to boost ADA that long weekend in Feb.

      I think some kind of break in this part of the calendar would be supported by parents.

    4. End date: Like the Start date: Not a priority. Use this to make other things work better.

    Staff 9/16/04

    I think we need to start before Labor day – it is too hard to finish last in June. Mid week start is good- it helps people to get adjusted.

    We haven’t tried it yet but I think a week off is good. I actually like the calendar used in most Catholic High Schools where the semester ends in Dec and the Winter Break is a real break.

    I like option 3 (12/20). Then if people leave to go out of town they will have returned and we will not have the absent issue.

    I prefer June 9. The extra week is rare and we have issues with kids coming from other school districts.

    My hope is we can adopt a plan for this district and stick to it so this does not continue to be an issue – I am sure that is most people's preference.

    Parent 9/16/04

    So, any pretense of a hybrid calendar is pretty much gone. The board promised us year-rounders that we wouldn't go back to a fully traditional calendar - yet, this is now what we have. Really disappointing and I can tell you that any incumbent running for re-election this year that made that promise (I think there are 2 still left) will not get my vote. Perhaps you can relay this concern to them.

    Parent 9/16/04

    Start Date: Wednesday, August 31st It always helps to "bribe" the kids with "Oh come on guys, you can handle just THREE days of school this week" A full week right from the start...may send them screaming for the hills!

    Breaks: I think that the week of Thanksgiving is great! I intend to take full advantage of this new holiday and head out early for Turkey Day

    End Date: June 16th works for us. We are a baseball family and all the sports programs don't end until that time as well so we couldn’t "escape" on an early vacation anyway. Also with Graduations it helps that they are mid-June as opposed to the first of the month. Helps make things a little less crazy.

    There you have it ...it’s a more emotional approach that scientific but as a parent...it works!

    Teacher 9/16/04

    I know the calendar is always a contentious item, and many parties differ strongly. My high school perspective would be that by far my highest priority is to get out by June 9. We are a prisoner of the national test dates for the AP (starting May 2!) and the SAT. By starting earlier and getting out earlier we would be giving our students more instructional days prior to the test dates, which we cannot move.

    My experience over 32 years is that absolutely nothing good happens educationally or any other way in June. I believe starting in August will work well.

    Teacher 9/16/04

    I appreciate you spearheading this enormous task. I will answer your questions a little later. Here is some information and questions of my own that I hope you could look into.

    1. Whatever happened to the blended calendar (traditional/year round)?
    2. How much money did the district save from starting after Labor Day? (This was the districts arquement for discontinuing the blended calendar)
    3. Now that we started before Labor Day, hmmm, did we lose out on any monies?
    4. If we really didn't lose out by starting before Labor Day, why not just start a little earlier? This would allow for an October break. As you know, and I'm sure you are hearing that there are a lot of families who continue to take time off in October, what are the repercussions, ($$$) to the district?
    5. Lastly, lets push for a 3 year calendar. Why should we have to come back to the table every year?

    Parent 9/15/04

    General comments...A full week is better than a short one, I would vote for August 29 as the start date. I like the Thanksgiving break for family activities. I prefer the December 23 to January 9 break first, December 16 to January 2 second and December 22 to January 4 last. Friday to Monday is essential.

    Parent 9/15/04

    Thank you for getting rid of that silly October break.

    Parent 9/15/04

    1. Start on the Monday.
    2. The November break is ridiculous especially since there is a week of half days the week before for parent conferences. Are they really expecting high attendance????? Not to mention nobody will really use that week for going away as it will be too crowded and the cost of traveling in peak times is too much. Reinstate the October break. I don't know anyone in Elementary school, teachers included who didn't love that!!!! Is it possible to just be different then the high schools for that week only???
    3. I like option 2 (12/20) or 3 (12/23) for the winter break. Better to have more time off after the holidays then before.

    4. No opinion on end date. Either is fine.

    Parent 9/15/04

    1. I prefer midweek, Wed Aug 31st, as it gets the kids back into the swing but not over doing it with a whole week of school at first.
    2. I prefer the long Thanksgiving break. Not too many days missed and easier for family trips. October breaks are nice but for working parents it does cause a strain on having to arrange child care for children if the parents cannot take time off.
    3. Preference of Christmas/New Years break - #2 first(12/23), #3 second (12/20), and #1 (12/16) last. I prefer #3 because it works better with most work schedules and vacation time for other family members.

    4. End date of June 9th. Earlier is always better to start the summer.

    Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion about this issue and for being ahead of the game.

    Parent 9/15/04

    Start Date: Monday, August 29

    Break: 1) December 23 - January 9 2) December 22- January 4 3) December 16- Jan. 2

    Thanksgiving break okay but still prefer October.

    End Date: June 16

    Parent 9/15/04

    1. I vote for Wednesday, August 31st-midweek like this year. My kids were really tired and so was I! I think that easing into the school schedule by only going 3 days and then having 3 days off makes sense.
    2. I loved the October break. Kids seemed to need a break as well. We could go away and either visit family or go to Disneyland when other families weren't traveling and therefore it was easier to get flights and less busy. I don't really care for the Thanksgiving week break because since it is around an official holiday and a busy traveling holiday to see family, we end up not going anywhere. 4 or 5 days was enough to have off rather than the 9 days off. My vote is for the week in October.
    3. Regarding the Christmas/New Years break, my preference would be to have school end on Tuesday, December 20tht and return on Wednesday, January 5th. I wouldn't want school to end on Dec 23rd because if you do any traveling (and not take the kids out of school) you have to do it on Christmas Eve. Getting out on the 16th is a little early but I don't like returning on January 2nd since we usually go to New Year's Eve and New Year's Day parties. We would need another day or two. I vote for getting out and returning mid-week.

    4. I do not have a preference regarding the ending date. However it falls.

    Hope this helps. And, thanks for asking.

    Parent 9/15/04

  • Start Date midweek is OK. It worked this year in my home, and I have 3 children in two shools in District
  • October break, while nice to get away with lesser crowds at destinations, is less preferable than Thanksgiving break, as lots of people travel during this holiday for family purposes, in addition to vacations. The more traditional the holiday, the more the break makes sense.
  • Option 3 (12/20) is the best choice.
  • Mega kudos for the amount and quality of your communications. You set high standards, and I love that!!

    Parent 9/15/04

    I'd prefer to start on a Monday.

    It's a waste of time. It's inconvenient to travel this week. I'd rather see the Oct break reinstated. I've heard of many families who plan to take time off in Oct regardless of whether there is a formal break of not.

    2 (12/23),1 (12/16) ,3(12/20)

    No preference (for end date)

    Parent 9/15/04

  • Start monday aug. 29th
  • Would love an october break again. Barring that keep the thanksgiving week holiday - better than nothing.
  • Stop on 12/16.
  • Thanks for continuing to take the pulse of the community.

    Parent 9/15/04

    I prefer a start date in mid-week (Wed., Aug. 31st).

    I think a break for Thanksgiving is sensible; it's a good time for a break.

    My order of preference between your # 1., 2. & 3. is the complete opposite of the way it's listed. I prefer #3. (school ends 12/22...) then 2. (school ends 12/23...) then 1. (school ends 12/16...).

    I don't think when school ends is as important as that sense of prolonging summer (let children BE children) & easing back into school by having a 3-day week as opposed to 5 right off the bat.

    I feel strongly about these opinions & feel that I could persuade others as well, if necessary. Of course, ultimately, we'll go with what the school district decides!

    Thank you for requesting our input!

    Parent 9/15/04

    Given the choice, Wednesday, August 31. My opinion, however, is after Labor Day and take school until the end of June.

    Number one (12/16)

    June 16th, or later as indicated in my answer to number one.

    Parent 9/15/04

    Here are my thoughts:

  • The start date doesn’t bother me personally but in general I would think a Monday start is preferable.
  • With regard to the week’s break. I much preferred the week in October. However I think it is preferable to have a complete week at some point, even if it is in November, rather than having the occasional day here and there or a long weekend.
  • For the Christmas Break, my order of preference would be 1 (12/16),3 (12/20),2(12/23)
  • I have no preference for the end date.
  • Parent 9/15/04

    1. start as close to labor day as possible
    2. like the week off during thanksgiving
    3. definately NOT the 3rd option as that is terrible for camps/working parents. Need to be full weeks! I prefer the 2nd (Dec 23/Jan 9) as many folks like to do something over New Years as well.
    4. Am open to when school ends between these two dates

    Thanks for asking!

    Parent 9/15/04

  • Start school 8/29
  • Thanksgiving week - keep 1 week break
  • Christmas option 1: 12/16-1/2
  • Parent 9/15/04

    Thanks or the opportunity to express our preferences for the school calendar.

    Start date: Monday the 29th: gives students a full week of school.

    Breaks: I would love to see the October break return, I have no need or interest in having the full Thanksgiving week off.

    Option #1 (Dec 16/Jan1) for the Winter/ Holiday break

    End date: no preference

    Parent 9/15/04

    Thanks for asking for suggestions.

    I like the week off in November. I think October is too early to have a break because the kids are just getting into the routine.

    I prefer Christmas break beginning Dec. 16 as it leaves more time for families to arrive at their holiday destinations.

    I'm fine with any start/end date-- as long as someone in the city is providing childcare up to the first day of school. I think Girls Inc's summer program ended two weeks before school started this year, and there were a lot of families scrambling to find childcare.

    Parent 9/15/04

    Maybe wishful longing on my part, but i would like to see the October break reinstated. This would perhaps push "opening day" a two weeks before Labor Day, but it's well worth the effort. This avoids those few school days before the Holiday and makes the class time more instructive without an intrusive break for a three day weekend. I reviewed last year's comments and it seems that almost all parents desired a late October break.

    Parent 9/15/04

    I have a child in second grade at xxxx and another in ninth at xxxx.

    1. I'd prefer Monday, August 29th. It always seems like the schools need at least a week to get things going and then maybe real work can actually start the day after Labor Day.
    2. If there is no possibility of going back to the week off in October, then I think the Thanksgiving week off is a good alternative. I'd be curious to find out, post- break, if there was any improvement in the Average Daily Attendance with this change in schedule.
    3. As for the winter break, assuming option 3 was actually starting THURSDAY, December 22, my choices, in order of preference are: 2, 3, 1

    4. The last day of school is not a big issue for me. I'm not sure what would push it later unless that is the difference of having the Thanksgiving break versus not having that full week.

    Parent 9/15/04

    Personally I have never understood school starting in the middle of the week. I would prefer to start on a Monday. I would like to have the second choice on Christmas break (Friday Dec 23), returning on the 9th. As far as what day school ends I have no preference. I think the one week at Thanksgiving is a good idea to increase attendance.



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