JSD will decide spring break issue today

The Juneau School District Board of Education will decide today whether or not students will have spring break next year.

Up on the agenda the board is supposed to take action on is approval of the school calendar for the next year. The starkest difference between the two proposed versions featured one with spring break in March, the other without one at all — though the latter option has the school year end a week earlier. The intent behind the proposal to ax spring break from the calendar is because the calendar committee wanted to preserve a full week of instruction prior to the Alaska Standards Based Assessments.

The staff recommendation on the options is for the version that includes spring break.

Some board members in prior discussion on the topic favored a spring break because without it, there is no break for staff and students after the winter holidays.

Others — and some public testimony — also felt that the spring break was more beneficial because of the Gold Medal basketball tournament. Members of the public said when school is in session during Gold Medal, it is highly disruptive and attendance is low because many families make the tournament a family event. It also was questioned whether the event could even occur at all if school was in session.

Part of the reason the staff recommendation favors the spring break option is feedback from staff and that public testimony.

Another larger change in next year’s proposed calendar over this year is that elementary and secondary students will all have no-class days when one or the other has parent-teacher conferences. The way it works this year is if elementary school students have conferences, secondary students typically still have school — and vice versa. The district has received feedback it is too confusing or there is a higher level of absenteeism those days because older students end up watching the younger ones. So next year, it’s proposed to have the non-conference grade levels also have a day off, where staff will have a professional development day.

Also on the agenda is a final reading on the superintendent’s evaluation. At the last regular meeting, the board said it would recommend a year extension of his contract, but with no increase in pay. That recommendation is based solely on the district’s budget deficit, and is not performance related.

The board will also take a first look at revision of a policy that figures indirect cost allocations.

The regular meeting will start at 6:15 p.m. in the Juneau-Douglas High School Library.

The board also will meet at 4:30 p.m. in a work session to hear a presentation on “Equity in the Schools.” Last year the district adopted a new equity policy.

For a full agenda and related documents see: www.juneauschools.org/board/meetings/packets.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.


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