Pleasanton Weekly

News - December 16, 2011

Late school break causes problems for some parents

Others agree with timing of break

by Glenn Wohltmann

Parents of Pleasanton school kids will have to wait a little longer than usual to dash off to Grandma's house for Christmas.

The district, unlike others nearby, stuck with its traditional plan of running school until the Friday before Christmas. That means the last day of school before the break is Friday, Dec. 23, albeit a half day. The Pleasanton school district will run its break until Jan. 6, with a weekend following, so kids won't return until Jan. 9.

Bill Faraghan, assistant superintendent of human resources, said the district usually works with Dublin, Livermore and San Ramon Valley school districts to coordinate calendars. He said the Pleasanton district put its calendar together based on the usual agreement that schools would remain in session until the Friday before Christmas. Faraghan said Pleasanton put its calendar together first and learned later that other districts had opted for an earlier break.

Both Dublin and Livermore will be off from Dec. 19 through Jan. 3; San Ramon Valley schools will get off the same day but be off through Jan. 4.

The timing of Pleasanton's break is causing some problems for parents. Julie Nostrand, who wrote a letter to the editor (see pg 15), said she won't get to do much of what's become family tradition for her kids, who are third- and fourth-graders at Valley View Elementary School.

"All the activities that we do that lead up to Christmas are impacted. For instance, when does everyone get to go and bake cookies with Grandma? We usually use the breaks to go see Christmas lights around the area. That's going to be tough this year," Nostrand said.

She added that her children have been invited to holiday parties from kids in other districts that they either won't be able to attend or will have to leave early because those are school nights.

While she characterized her issue as "trivial," one aspect might not be: the financial impact for families who have to arrange an extra week of child care.

"All the other activities start back up on the first week of January," Nostrand said. "What do you do with your kids that week?"

While many parents are complaining -- Trevor Knaggs, president of the Association of Pleasanton Teachers, noted he's received a number of emailed complaints -- some see the late break as a good thing.

Tim Totah has first- and third-graders and said the break gives kids more time in school before their extended winter vacation.

"They have a good four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I prefer that so they can solidify what they've been learning with a minimum of breaks," Totah said, pointing out that kids had a total of 10 days off for their Thanksgiving break.

"I don't think they need an earlier break. I think it's wonderful planning by the school district," he said.

Knaggs said that even with the later break, high school students will have two weeks to study before final exams.

The district is not alone in having a later break. Sunol Glen, which offers classes for kindergarteners through eighth-graders follows the same schedule. The Athenian School in Danville will be off from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3, and Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward will be off from Dec. 23 through Jan. 9. St. Raymond in Dublin will have its vacation from Dec. 23 though Jan. 3.

Nearly all others will have breaks similar to Dublin, Livermore and San Ramon Valley. Valley Christian in Pleasanton, which offers a K-5 program, will have its break from Dec. 16 through Jan. 2, as will St. Philip Lutheran School in Dublin, which has classes for kindergarteners though eighth-graders, and Quarry Lane in Pleasanton, which holds classes for K-12.

Other schools with earlier breaks are:

- St. Michael Catholic School in Livermore

- Carden West in Pleasanton

- Our Savior Lutheran School in Livermore

- Carondelet High School in Concord

- De La Salle High School in Concord

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