Pointing out that for 30-plus years SDUSD has had a calendar committee responsible for putting together instructional calendars, SDUSD director of communications Linda Zintz said, “San Diego Unified is one of the last remaining school districts to start after Labor Day. Out of 42 districts in the county, only three or four of us continue to start the day after Labor Day.”
The proposed start date for the calendar change is Aug. 29, 2016 for all schools, with an end date of June 14, 2017 for traditional calendar schools and an end date of July 21, 2017 for year-round schools.
But before making any adjustments to its calendar, SDUSD acknowledges the importance of informing all the stakeholders why the district is considering the move, which it believes will benefit students.
The district Calendar Committee identified several benefits of moving the start of school to August, including:
• Aligns the district calendar with the majority of school districts across San Diego County.
• Maximizes instruction time for students prior to the administration of standardized tests, which are given in the spring.
• Aligns the district calendar more closely with the San Diego Community College District and other university academic calendars, which expands opportunities for high school students to participate in early summer special enrichment programs or pre-collegiate classes.
• Students who participate in fall sports: football, field hockey, water polo, and cross country, begin training in August to be competitive with the other districts that start school in August. In essence, their summer break is already over.
• Provides students looking for summer employment/internships equal access to these opportunities as students in other districts.
• Not being tied to the definitive start date of the day after Labor Day provides flexibility for the end of the school year so it does not end on a Monday.
Zintz noted the proposed 2016-17 calendar change was first proposed in December 2014, but added the district board, “felt like we weren’t giving families (proper) notice to make the change in 2015-16, so that was changed to 2016-17.”
Zintz said her initial impression was that district stakeholders were about evenly split on the pros versus the cons of starting the school year earlier rather than later. She added there is an online forum on a district website where parents and others can “give their input saying, ‘Yes, we support the Aug. 29 start date,’ or ‘No, we to stay with the day after Labor day time.’ ”
“I know there are some vocal parents out there,” said Zintz about the ramifications of the proposed school calendar change.
Zintz said SDUSD has set aside March for outreach and comment, noting once feedback has been compiled, that information will be presented to the district’s governing board for further consideration, likely in April.
Zintz noted the propose calendar change will not only affect students and their parents, but will also impact the district’s 14,000 employees at all of its school sites. She added though that whether or not it’s “the best thing for kids,” will likely ultimately determine whether the calendar change is made - or not.
Founded in 1854, SDUSD represents more than 200 institutions with more than 15,000 employees. The district includes 113 elementary schools, 24 middle schools, four atypical schools, 10 alternative schools, 27 high schools and 25 charter schools. The district is governed by a five-member elected Board of Education. Board members are elected by district for four-year terms.
The SDUSD calendar change survey is available at www.sandi.net/. Deadline to provide feedback is March 31. If you have questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.