Guidelines proposed for school year

Posted: Thursday, November 08, 2001

Juneau schools Superintendent Gary Bader has proposed new guidelines for the annual school calendar.

Under the new regulations, which Bader presented to the Juneau School Board on Tuesday, a committee appointed by the superintendent would oversee the construction of a draft school calendar using a formalized set of guidelines for start dates and holidays.

Bader said creating the school calendar draws a lot of interest each year, and said he was not aware of any previous written guidelines for how it should be done.

Under Bader's plan, the committee would include a teacher, administrator and support staffer, as well as a parent from each of the three school levels.

"The regulations attempt to get a representative of each stakeholder group present to determine what the calendar should be," he said.

The committee, which would meet each November and December, would work within the following guidelines:

* Start school in late August, but no earlier than Aug. 20.

* A winter recess of, at minimum, Dec. 24 through Jan. 1, with an attempt to start the holiday at least four weekdays before Dec. 25 to allow students and staff to travel.

* The following school holidays: Labor Day, Alaska Day (for students), Veterans Day if it is a weekday, Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day and Memorial Day.

* Four days for staff development and collaboration, with inservice days scheduled to maximize the number of five-day school weeks.

The guidelines were based on comments by the School Board and a poll of teachers, Bader said.

Bader said polled teachers voted 65-30 to support a five-weekday spring break; 55-14 against more staff inservice days; 83-8 to keep parent conferences at twice a year; and 55-13 against starting school after Labor Day.

Bader said he heard positive comments about this year's start date, which was the Wednesday before Labor Day. That date eased students and staff into the school year, with successive three-day, four-day and finally a full five-day school week, he said.

Teachers also voted 52-33 that school weeks of less than five days do not inhibit learning, but Bader said poor wording of the question may have affected the outcome.

The board agreed to allow Bader to start working under the new regulations, although it will take public comments until the next board meeting Nov. 20. The School Board has final say on the annual calendar.

*****

Andrew Krueger can be reached at akrueger@juneauempire.com.



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