By Jason KUROSU
The Glendale Unified School District board of education heard a report on Tuesday regarding early start dates for the school year. The date for students and teachers to return to school has moved progressively earlier into August after a superintendent’s committee on calendar development recommended earlier start dates back in 2008.
Assistant Superintendent Maria Gandera presented the history of GUSD’s move into pre-Labor Day starting dates for the school year, which began when a committee of teachers, administrators, principals and others determined that an earlier start date was beneficial in a number of areas. These areas included teachers having longer periods of time for instruction prior to national tests and allowing older students extra time to find summer employment with an earlier end date.
Gandera also said a number of other school districts have moved their starting dates into August, including La Cañada, Alhambra, Burbank, Pasadena and Los Angeles, among others.
Board members said that more data on student performance should be looked into to determine whether earlier start dates have actually had a positive effect, as well as speaking with other school districts to gauge whether they are satisfied or concerned with the early starts.
Board member Greg Krikorian expressed reluctance over the trend of starting dates moving further back into August.
“Just because we’re moving in one direction, moving [the date] up, doesn’t mean it’s always working,” said Krikorian, who asked if next year’s calendar could be re-negotiated to start later.
Board member Nayiri Nahabedian supported an earlier start date, but cautioned that it was likely too late to change next year’s calendar, as many people have already coordinated plans well in advance.
“I am very much open to taking a look at this and figuring it out for the years that are coming down the road,” said Nahabedian, who supported “a thoughtful process that is going to work for our families and our students and our employees. I would love to have it come back so that we can go through that and make decisions for the years that we don’t have a committed calendar.”
Board President Christine Walters said that putting the school calendar together was a delicate process but that some thought towards all people’s considerations, including those who desired a later start date, was important.
“The calendar we have now is a conglomeration of many, many different requests,” Walters said. “The calendar has been put together maybe in a more mathematical way to try to accommodate as many requests as possible and maybe we really need to take a step back and look at this in a more comprehensive manner.”
The 2015-16 GUSD school year started on Aug. 10 and the 2016-17 year is slated to start on Aug. 8. The 2017-18 school calendar is currently being negotiated.