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Board shifts semesters for the next school year

Posted: Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Next year's public school calendar will have about the same number of days in the first and second semesters under a change approved by the Juneau School Board on Tuesday.

The school board recently OK'd a calendar that started classes Aug. 29 and ended the first semester before the winter holiday break in late December. But it left the first semester about 20 school days shorter than the second semester.

The middle schools and the high school are on a four-quarter, two-semester schedule. The elementary schools have trimesters.

"I don't think the amount of imbalance we have is best for the education system," Superintendent Gary Bader told the school board.

A calendar proposed by a committee of mostly teachers and support staff also ended the first semester before winter break, leaving the first semester 15 days shorter than the second semester.

Some teachers wanted the first semester to end early because students have a hard time starting up again after a two-week winter break. It also spared students from having homework over the break.

But about 25 teachers at Juneau-Douglas High School recently asked the school board to balance the semesters, Bader said. Some courses at JDHS and exploratory courses in the middle schools are one semester long.

"In a time when meeting rigorous standards and preparing students to be successful on the high school graduation qualifying examination are expected goals," JDHS teacher Bill Ralston told Bader in an e-mail, "it seems unfair to arbitrarily lop off a portion of the curriculum in one semester and add supplemental lessons in another."

The changes approved Tuesday won't affect the previously set starting and ending dates for the school year, or the dates or length of the winter and spring breaks.

But the first quarter will end Oct. 26, rather than Oct. 17, and the first semester will end Jan. 18, rather than Dec. 21. The parent-teacher conferences that follow the first semester have been moved back a week, as well.

The third quarter's end was moved from March 15, a week before spring break, to March 22. Teachers said it didn't make sense to hold a week of fourth-semester classes just before spring break.

Eric Fry can be reached at efry@juneauempire.com.



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