By Jason KUROSU
GUSD schools are adjourning for the holidays at a noticeably later date than usual: Dec. 23. The winter break will go through the first week of January so that students will return to class on Monday, Jan. 10. The shift of about a week in the starting and ending dates of the winter break may have some parents confused and surprised as they plan their winter vacations.
Deputy Superintendent John Garcia offered a few reasons as to the scheduling.
“Whenever Christmas falls on a weekend, there’s always a decision on whether to set the break closer or farther to Christmas.”
Indeed, Dec. 25 falls on a Saturday this year. Usual scheduling would have schools leave for the break the previous week – Friday, Dec. 17 – and returning to school sometime the week of Jan. 3 to Jan. 7. But while beginning the winter break that early was not considered optimal, ending the winter break around Jan. 3 was not either, but for wholly different reasons.
“At the district, we get paid based on average daily attendance,” Garcia said. Average Daily Attendance is a statistic calculated by dividing the total number of days of student attendance by the number of days of school is taught.
“A significant portion of families whose children attend our schools celebrate Orthodox Christmas,” Garcia noted, referring to Jan. 6, a day when many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas rather than on Dec. 25. “Many of these families take their vacations around the 6th and we’ve noticed a trend of higher absence rate on and around the 6th. So the calendar was scheduled this way to maximize average daily attendance.”
The schedule could change in future years to an early start calendar. Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources David Samuelson said, “We think the early start calendar will come into effect during the 2012-13 year. This will give students more time to prepare for finals at the end of January and AP tests in the spring.”
For now though, the schedules remain the same, but with this slightly modified winter break. Adjust vacation schedules accordingly.