Teachers, parents, students asked to comment on potential Pleasanton school year calendar change

School board also elects Jamie Hintzke as its president for 2016, succeeding Valerie Arkin

The Pleasanton school board voted Tuesday night to move forward with a survey to see what the community thinks about changing the school year calendar.

The Pleasanton Unified School District board voted unanimously to move forward with the survey, provided that a few measures be added to avoid people taking the survey multiple times.

The informational survey will be sent this week to students in grades 8-12, teachers, staff members, parents and other stakeholders via email, postcards, by posting on the school district's website, through the district's eConnection and notices placed in the Pleasanton Weekly.

Dianne Howell, interim assistant superintendent of human resources, said participants may be asked to include some sort of identifying code, such as their employee ID number or student ID number, in order to take the survey. The details of that decision were expected to be determined this week.

Howell said she would be able to provide a summarized update of responses at the board's next regular meeting in January.

The district is pursuing a community survey for changing the instructional calendar after a controversial effort to change the calendar last year.

In June 2014, the board approved a modified calendar that rescheduled the start of school for early August, with the end of school set for late May.

That decision was rescinded in January after criticism about a perceived lack of public input during the process, and the traditional calendar was reinstated. Board members did not specify whether a change to the instructional calendar will now be considered for the 2016-17 year or a future year, but it is a possibility that a new calendar could take effect as soon as fall.

"The one thing I don't want to happen is a repeat of the divisiveness and the degradation of trust the last time we did this," said board member Mark Miller, who campaigned for election to the board last year on the calendar change controversy.

The survey itself offers a variety of questions about opinions about ways the district could improve its calendar. The survey does not provide stakeholders with revised calendar options to vote upon since the survey isn't meant to be treated as a ballot, Howell said.

Decisions on what type of calendar adjustment, and a specific implementation date, will be made at future meetings with input from the community survey.

While there was discussion about not rushing the overall implementation of a new instructional calendar, three members of the district's calendar committee spoke to encourage board members to pass along the survey in the meantime.

"We need to get the survey out as soon as possible. without the survey there's no certainty if we need a new calendar," said Joshua Ott, Amador Valley junior who also serves as a student board member. "It's crucial to answer this question of what the majority wants by sending out this survey."

Also at Tuesday night's meeting, board member Jamie Hintzke was elected president for the 2016 calendar year, succeeding Valerie Arkin. Miller was elected vice president.

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Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Dec 9, 2015 at 10:08 am

Is they survey only for 8-12 graders? Would it address the younger age group?

9 people like this
Posted by Watching
a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:10 am

Mark Miller's wife runs a summer camp business. He should recuse himself from voting on this issue.

Like this comment
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 9, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Let's hope things don't get ugly this time around.

27 people like this
Posted by Mark Miller
a resident of Mission Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

@Watching: my wife volunteers as a director at a Girl Scout camp. We don't benefit financially from any instructional calendar.

18 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 9, 2015 at 3:23 pm

I think there should be a survey on what goes in the survey, with a committee to review and send surveys on the perceived results of the other surveys. Then we can vote on how the voting should take place.

For petes sake board. Learn to make a decision based on best interest, not noise.

And in the end, some moron will still say they didn't get enough info. Same morons as last time. And the board will crawl away again.

Posted by grinch
a resident of Birdland

on Dec 9, 2015 at 4:20 pm

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10 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

San Ramon just put out their calendar for next year:
Web Link

The start of the school year will be August 15, which is 1-2 weeks before normal. Apparently, Dublin has done the same thing, though I cannot get confirmation of this.

Clearly the school calendar for Pleasanton will change at some point, but instead of being the leader of the change (or even changing at the same time), it looks like we will be late to the party.

4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 17, 2015 at 9:12 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Get the Facts, to be completely correct, San Ramon didn't lead the change unless you meant for the East Bay. The week of TK-8 minimum days in October is disruptive for students and teachers as far as actual learning time (why not two full days for conferences and possibly pay staff to work after hours those two days). But finals are before the break and the start and end dates are reasonable. I'll look to see, but did the board approve only one calendar year? Seems unusual.

1 person likes this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2015 at 7:07 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Kathleen, I do mean that SR (and possibly Dublin) are leading the change for this area - Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, SR and Danville/Alamo. One could argue that Sunol started the movement, as they started school on August 10th this year.

I don't understand your argument that the week in October is disruptive. It is no more disruptive that Spring Break, it is less disruptive that Christmas/holiday break, and less disruptive than summer break. But even weekends and three-day weekends are disruptive, so I'm not sure what you think is best. Are you suggesting school 52 weeks a year and six days a week? (Obviously not, but I'm curious what you think is best.)

As a teacher, if the calendar changes more than one week earlier in August, I will desire an October break. That is what Sunol has done, to me it makes the most sense.

I do agree with you that the current November schedule is a mess with all of the conference minimum days. A modified schedule would move those days to roughly late October, improving November greatly.

And when you say the "start and end dates are reasonable", that is in the eye of the beholder. I think early an August start, if there is an October break, is reasonable.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 17, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Get the Facts, I was commenting on the San Ramon calendar you posted. There are five half days in October for conferences. Yes, eye of the beholder.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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