By Jason KUROSU
Opposition from parents continues regarding the Glendale Unified School District’s calendar, which has had school year start dates pushing further back into the summer weeks each year, with a 2016-17 start date still slated for Aug. 8.
Parent Carolyn Klas spoke at the board of education’s Sept. 15 meeting with counterpoints to a previous district presentation that covered the pros and cons of an early August start date.
“We keep hearing from the board in different ways that we’ve gone back to school the same week for three years now as if that somehow makes it okay,” said Klas. “But I’d like to look at it as people gave it a chance, it’s not working for them, and we’d like you to consider change.”
The district previously spoke on the early start calendar at its Sept. 1 meeting, during which the inception and evolution of the early start calendar was laid out by Assistant Superintendent Maria Gandera. The presentation indicated that an earlier start date was not only becoming more common at numerous other school districts, but benefitted students as far as increased, uninterrupted learning time, better alignment with college calendars, and more time for students to find summer employment.
Klas said that the presentation “both underrepresented many issues that easily [could] be presented as cons and misrepresented some factors included as pros.”
Klas said that the early start date limits students’ opportunities during those summer months and is tailored to a select group of students.
According to Klas, many of the benefits reported by the district could be contradicted.
Klas said longer uninterrupted instruction time provided by an early start was offset by extended Labor Day and Thanksgiving breaks. Also noted were the loss of summer employment opportunities that would require a longer commitment than students could make when school started earlier in August.
Klas said that there was also “zero research” to support that an early start date positively impacted student learning.
A recent “Save Our Summers” petition was circulated with the intent of getting the district’s start date moved closer to Labor Day.
“I think [the early start calendar] is a good idea that went bad along the way,” Klas said.
GUSD board president Christine Walters said that with the calendar in place for a few years the board was caught “a little by surprise, because we have been doing this for the last few years and have not had a lot of pushback on it.”
However, Walters said, “We are planning to have a more robust discussion and process” on forming the calendar, with a more public discussion on the calendar sometime in October.