New schedule considered

Palos Verdes Unified School District is considering changes to the school year.

Summer might get a little less leisurely for Peninsula students this year.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula School District Board of Education will consider a change in the 2018-2019 school-year calendar that would shorten summer vacation by a few days and instead give students and staff the entire week of Thanksgiving off.

The proposed change came out of this year’s negotiations between the district and the Palos Verdes Faculty Association. The PVFA, which hasn’t bargained over the school calendar in three years, will present the calendar to the board at the April 25 meeting.

This proposed version would start instruction on Aug. 22, give students the entire week of Thanksgiving off and end the school year on June 6.

Not everyone supports the proposed changes. Some parents with summer childcare and vacation plans already in place are upset about the short notice, should the change be approved.

Marcia Russell, a parent of four PVPUSD students and a full-time surgeon, said this proposal is making her scramble for alternative child care in the weeks that are not covered by the district’s summer day camp. The camp usually runs for 10 weeks, ending a week before school starts. In the last week of summer, her family usually plans a vacation. Because her plans are non-refundable, her kids will have to miss the first three days of school. Other families are also facing this predicament, she said.

“To be clear, I am very supportive of our wonderful teachers, and it is my understanding that they would like to have Thanksgiving week off,” Russell said in an email. “My problem is with the short time frame. It would be a different story if we were talking about changes for the 2019-2020 school year, but unfortunately we are talking about changes that go into effect this August.”

The association preferred an earlier version presented to the board, according to Kathy Santarosa, the chairperson of the negotiating team for the PVFA, but negotiations resulted in the proposed plan.

The association surveyed its members in November and found that most preferred to start the school year after Labor Day, have the week of Thanksgiving off and get out of school later in June.

“We went to the district and bargained and came up with a calendar that everyone was happy with,” Santarosa said.

When the association presented the calendar to the board that would have aligned with the survey results, the board did not approve it, stating that Advanced Placement teachers usually stop teaching new material after AP tests finish in mid-May. The calendar would have kept students in school until mid-June.

Superintendent Don Austin said the board’s desire is to have as many instructional days before AP and state testing as possible so students can apply what they learn in those tests.

When the board did not approve the first calendar, the bargaining teams went back to the drawing board and came up with two more calendars: one was similar to what the district has now with only the Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving week off and the second included the entire week off.

PVFA members chose the second, preferring a week off for Thanksgiving rather than starting later.

“Historically, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break is the lowest attended day of the school year and financially, that has been hard on the schools,” Austin said.

But it’s unclear what the financial impact to the district would be if many students miss the first three days of school because of pre-planned trips with their families.

“We have already paid for our vacation and it is not movable or changeable — my children will be missing the first three days of school if the start date is approved on August 22,” Russell said. “And many, many families I have spoken with also have vacation plans and will not be attending if the start date is moved up as proposed.”

The PVFA anticipates the board will approve the calendar at the April 25 meeting.

This issue comes after a tense bargaining session last year that led to teachers holding back submitting grades and recommendation letters to students after stalled salary negotiations.

The association will also host a Town Hall about all bargaining matters for this year’s session at 7 p.m. on Thursday night at Miraleste Intermediate School.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.