School district hammers out controversial calendar dates

Posted: Wednesday, February 07, 2001

Next school year will start Aug. 29 for students, end June 6 and include two weeks off in the winter and one week off in the spring. The Juneau School Board approved the school calendar at Tuesday's meeting.

A committee of mostly teachers and other staff had recommended a school year that started for students on Aug. 22 and ended May 30. As in the selected proposal, teachers would begin two days earlier with in-service and orientation sessions. Teachers have a 183-day work year that includes 180 days of contact with students.

School Board President Mary Becker said the board received more than 100 e-mails and other comments from parents and employees asking for a later starting date. At the same time, some teachers wanted a shorter spring break because it's hard to get students back to work after a vacation.

Becker's proposal, which the board chose, pushed back the starting and ending dates, while preserving the two-week winter break around Christmas and a week off at the end of March. She said she has heard some concerns about the late end "because we do have a community where students and staff do get summer jobs."

The support staff almost unanimously supported a proposal by school board member Deana Darnall that also started the school year later but shortened the spring break into a four-day weekend and let school end May 30, Bill Burk, representing the Juneau Education Support Staff, told the board Tuesday. Becker's proposal cuts nearly two weeks out of summer jobs, he said.

Board member Stan Ridgeway said he heard overwhelming support from parents for a week-long spring break.

"I have a tendency to think we're inner-focused," he said. "We need to ask the community. When the calendar comes out, the community says, 'That's not what we want.' "

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