Fallbrook Union High School District superintendent Dale Mitchell, Ed.D, hopes to hear a lot of feedback very soon. Mitchell, the school board, and calendar committee team members are contemplating whether or not the school’s calendar should be changed for the 2015-2016 school year or not.
“I would like folks to know that we are looking at two options concerning the school calendar and are seeking input,” said Mitchell.
The first option is to keep the calendar the same as it was last year (2013-2014) and will be this year (2014-2015), which features an early start (Aug. 11 this year) and earlier finish. This option allows for a full week’s break Thanksgiving week, but has created some challenges with athletics.
The second option is to return to years past when school started a week later, finished a week later, and had a shorter Thanksgiving break.
Option 1 (existing – start earlier, end earlier)
Mitchell said the benefit to this schedule is that “folks have had a year of experience with this calendar,” he said. “ I know there is some desire that there be a little more continuity with the existing calendar structure before considering some type of change.”
One challenge, he said, “is the impact it has on athletics during the month of August.” Since school starts earlier, it allows fewer practice opportunities for fall sports teams (to be competitive) because once school starts, the academic school day must be accommodated. The other effect takes place at the end of the school year.
“By ending school in May, the potential for scheduling conflicts of senior-related activities (including graduation) with CIF playoffs greatly increases,” said Mitchell. “For example, this past year, if our girls softball team had made it any further in CIF playoffs, they would have had a conflict on graduation day.”
Option 2 (start later, end later)
Mitchell said the benefit to this schedule is it “eases conflicts with athletics.”
The challenge it presents is that this option would affect Thanksgiving break, Mitchell said. “It would reduce the break to just Thursday (Thanksgiving) and Friday. The information and experience we have is that many of our students/families travel during that week, so one of two things happens. Either families choose not to travel when they wanted to – or – they travel anyway.” If they travel, the school loses its average daily attendance allotment per student due to absenteeism, rendering a negative impact to the budget.
Mitchell said the district’s calendar committee is comprised of a variety of individuals who have been examining the situation and options, including four representatives of the teachers’ association.
“The teacher’s association has been part of the conversation, but there has not been a formal statement from the association regarding their view of the options,” said Mitchell.
The superintendent explained that he has tried to establish calendars for two school years at a time since he has been with the district.
“The uniqueness of this is that we transitioned to this relatively new calendar (earlier start, earlier release) and now there has been some hesitancy to take it forward for another two years,” he said.
Mitchell said he would welcome input on the topic. To view the two options, visit www.fuhsd.net. To submit an opinion regarding a calendar preference, email [email protected]
The options will be further discussed at the FUHSD board of trustees meeting on Aug. 11 and at a calendar committee meeting on Aug. 13. The recommendation will go before the board for a final vote on Aug. 25.