By Megan Martin
Every year, the Alameda Unified School District chooses a committee to create the school calendar for the following year. Members of the teachers’ union voted on next year’s calendar recently, and the school board approved it last week.
Next year, teachers will report back to school on Aug. 17, and the first day of classes for students will be Aug. 22. The last day of school will be June 8, 2017.
The calendar committee is composed of six individuals: three are employees of the district office and three are representatives of the teachers’ union. The three representatives of the teachers’ union are composed of people from all three levels: elementary, middle and high school.
The calendar committee first meets early in the fall, and begins the process by looking at the current calendar. Then they send out a short survey to teachers to receive their input and begin to draft two new calendar choices. The most basic parameters the calendar has to meet are that is has to include 185 teacher work days and 180 student days. Next, the committee takes into account certain factors that may drive when the school year should start and end, and when breaks should occur within the year.
Humera Khalil, one of the district representatives on this year’s committee, says that they took into account when creating the calendars the “end of semester, due dates for transcript submission to universities, surrounding district calendars, mandated holidays, [and] student testing.”
Over the course of several meetings, the calendar committee decides on two options, and teachers and counselors vote on those. The option that receives more votes then goes to the school board for approval. The board voted to approve next year’s calendar at their Feb. 9 meeting.
Khalil noted that school started later than usual this year, and it will end later as well (the last day of school will be June 16). This year’s calendar committee wanted AUSD to be more in line with neighboring districts, so both options for next year had school starting and ending earlier than it did this year.
One of the calendar options had school beginning on Aug. 17 and the first semester ending before the winter break. This option shortened Thanksgiving break to only three days, and added a week off of school for President’s day. This option did not win.
Helen Montell Weiland, a junior, said she would have preferred the calendar that had “finals before break so that we don’t have to do anything during break, and we can have an actual break.”
The option that won is similar to the calendar this year, with a week-long Thanksgiving break and a four-day weekend break for President’s Day. Finals will be in mid-January, after winter break. Both calendar options had teachers return to school during the third week of August, and both ended the year by June 9.
Kassie Demopoulos, also a junior, likes “the whole first semester ending before winter break,” because it “makes more sense and is a clean break.” But on the other hand, she believes that a three-day break for Thanksgiving is too short. Also, she feels that having finals after winter break is something she is used to, so it would be hard to go into finals without a two week break to be used for studying.
Scott Mathieson, AP Physics teacher, has a unique opinion of which calendar he thinks is best. Mathieson gives his final before winter break because then his students only have one final to study for. But he thinks that “we should logically be aiming” at ending before winter break, so he voted for the calendar with finals before winter break. In addition, “with this year ending so late and next year starting so early, I think it would be kind of a bummer for summer being so short,” said Mathieson.