Glendale: GUSD rejects longer break

Glendale News Press
March 26 2004

GUSD rejects longer break

School board drops three-week winter holiday idea from 2004-05 school
year calendar proposals.

By Gary Moskowitz, News-Press

NORTHEAST GLENDALE – A surge of disapproval from local parents about
a proposed three-week winter break has encouraged Glendale school
board members to drop the idea.

The school board submitted two 2004-05 school year calendar proposals
to the Glendale Teachers Assn. for consideration, and neither
includes a three-week winter break.

A three-week winter break would have included the Jan. 6 Armenian
Christmas. About 35% of the district’s 29,200 students – more than
10,000 students – are of Armenian descent, and most of them do not
attend school Jan. 6, officials said.

Since the Glendale Unified School District earns about $25 per
student per day in state Average Daily Attendance funds, the district
lost more than $250,000 on Jan. 6 because so many students did not
show up for class.

Several parents, during recent board meetings, said they were
“disappointed” and “dismayed” because the board did not consult with
parents’ groups about extending the winter break and shortening the
summer one.

“The feedback I’ve received, from about 160 people who have been
e-mailing me, is that they didn’t like that proposal,” board
President Pam Ellis said. “I don’t think they liked their children
going to school longer because they wanted longer summer vacations. I
think we need to move on this because people need to make their
plans. [The proposal] seemed to be too close to a sacred thing.

“If I could wave my magic wand, we would start after Labor Day next
year, but it would be my wish that over the next several years we
start in August, so students can finish the semester before winter
break. One of the problems people have is that kids come back from a
break and go right into final exams,” Ellis said.

Both calendar proposals submitted by the board include giving all
students and employees the day off Jan. 6.

Both proposals also include giving students the day before
Thanksgiving off, which the district’s current calendar does not
include. Students always get the day after Thanksgiving off, and the
proposals would continue that.

Students would make up for the extra days off either at the beginning
or the end of the school year, officials said.

The difference between the two proposals is the school year start
date. One proposal is to start the year before Labor Day, and the
other is to start school after the holiday. The district started the
2003-04 school year on a scattered schedule Tuesday and Wednesday
after Labor Day. The district opened the year on two days because of
teacher training sessions that could not be rescheduled.

School board members are expected to vote on the calendar at
Tuesday’s board meeting, which will begin at 3:30 p.m. at district
headquarters, 223 N. Jackson St. The teachers’ union plans to vote to
approve the calendar sometime in April.

The board and the union need to vote to approve the school year

A survey of teachers in the union showed that about 63% were in favor
of starting after Labor Day, and about 37% were in favor of starting
before, said Sandy Fink, the union’s president.

“Academically, it’s better for kids to start earlier so they have
more time to prepare for exams,” Fink said. “Some parents were
concerned about their kids coming to school in August at schools
without air conditioning. It’s hard for kids to concentrate when it’s
110 degrees and there is no air conditioning. I think teachers would
prefer taking exams before winter, that way kids can be done and
enjoy their vacation. We basically have decided to keep the calendar
about the same next year, and we’ll have to revisit this again.”