School calendar up for vote

BY CRAIG SHULTZ

   STAFF WRITER cshultz@pe.com 
   How long should children be out of school around Christmas?

   That will be debated Tuesday, April 9, when Hemet Unified School District trustees take another stab at the school calendar.

   They will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the district headquarters, 1791 W. Acacia Ave.

   Trustees will be asked to select from two options each for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years — one with a two-week break and one with three weeks off in December and January.

   When the calendar came before the seven trustees March 5, a decision was delayed as two board members said that three weeks is too much time to be out of school.

   The calendar is being adjusted primarily so that the first semester ends before the break, allowing high school students to take their final exams before the holiday vacation.

   In either scenario, the 2013-14 school year would begin Aug. 12 and the first semester would end Dec. 20. Classes would begin again either Jan. 6 or Jan. 13, depending on the length of the break.

   With a two-week break, the school year would end May 30, 2014. The last day would be June 6 with the longer winter break.

   Students would continue 
to be off one week each for Thanksgiving, Presidents Week and spring break.

   The 2014-15 school year would run from Aug. 6 to June 2 with a three-week winter break or Aug. 11 to May 29 with two weeks off.

   When the school board could not decide on a calendar last month, an ad hoc group met to discuss the options.

   The committee included the presidents of the district’s two employee unions, principals from the elementary, middle and high school levels, Superintendent Barry Kayrell and school board member Jim Smith, but no one from a parent group.

   The committee said the change would be beneficial in areas such as scheduling, aligning with upcoming dual enrollment college courses and with the majority of districts in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and eligibility timelines for winter sports.

   Another reason involves money. Schools are paid by the state based on their average daily attendance. Absences spike around the holidays, costing schools thousands of dollars.

   Opponents of the longer break fear students will forget some of what they learned if off three weeks.

   There also are concerns about childcare and divorced families, who often must negotiate when children spend time with each parent.

   Having students in school in early August, among the hottest time of the year, is also a worry.

   Follow Craig Shultz on Twitter @PE_CraigShultz and online at blog. pe.com/hemet 



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