By Mary O’KEEFE
The feeling of not being heard does not just pertain to the superintendent search meetings and the Be Heard CV survey. On Monday, the first day of school, a mom went home after dropping her child off at school, wrote a petition and put it online.
“I didn’t think it would get this [response],” said parent Sarah Rush.
The petition – Save Our GUSD Summers – focuses on extending the GUSD summer vacation period later into August. As of Wednesday evening, 714 people have signed the petition.
After dropping her child off at Rosemont Middle School, Rush heard several parents comment on how early the kids were going back to school. This is something she too had been thinking about.
“My [daughter] and I had two weeks together before she went back to school,” she said.
Her daughter had taken summer school and then had gone to a camp that she had been going to for years. Rush had been trying for months to get a reservation at a campground for a mini vacation but they were booked because late July and early August are busy times.
“Everything else was so expensive,” she said.
But it is not just the lost vacation time that seems to be pushing parents to sign the petition; it is the earlier and earlier date for the first day of school.
Although the first day of school was Aug. 10, for CVHS students getting books and class information began on July 30. Rush was concerned that next year’s start date of Aug. 8 will push high school students to get their information in mid-July.
Parent Carolyn Klas was surprised at how fast people were responding to the petition.
“It started [Monday] night. It started going around on Facebook and emails and there were over 300 signatures in just hours,” Klas said.
She has a child at CVHS and one at Rosemont.
“This year’s Howdy Day [at Rosemont] was Aug. 3,” Klas said. “It seems like these days everybody has been talking about [the early start date].”
Klas said she understood that the school year calendar had been changed to accommodate the end of semester testing. When the first day of school was after Labor Day, students would not take their semester final exams until after winter break. This caused students to study over their long holiday break. As it is now, finals are given before winter break and when students return to school they begin a new semester.
Klas and Rush said they understand that concern but feel there can be adjustments to the calendar to keep more of the summer break while ending the semester before winter break.
“We have an entire week off for Thanksgiving,” Klas said. She added giving back three of those days could give three days back to the summer break.
Empey said he has heard of this issue as well.
“About five years ago there was a committee to look at the calendar,” he said. The committee was composed of teachers, staff, students and parents.
“They recommended an earlier start date,” he said. “The number of vacation days is the same.”
He pointed out that students are back earlier but they are also getting out earlier in June.
“There were students on the committee and they [voiced their concern] about exams before the [winter] break,” Empey said.
Rush and Klas understand and support ending the semester before the break, but are still concerned that the dates continue to eat more and more of the summer from their kids.
“Right now the petition has gained momentum,” Klas said.
She encourages parents and students to attend the GUSD school board meeting on Aug. 18.
Rush said she is not an activist and loves the CV schools and the district.
“I love that our community is invested in the education of our kids,” she said. “I am not trying to be negative but there is room for discussion.”