District Considering Shifting School Year Forward

Genie Lee, News Editor

Consideration is being given to shifting the school-year calendar so that the 1st semester ends before winter break. As a result, the school year would also end earlier, potentially in late May.

Comprised of 85 teachers, parents, students, and administrators from the Acalanes High School District and the K-8 districts, the Calendar Committee has been discussing this, and other potential changes, for the 2019-2020 school year.

Chemistry teacher Stephanie Verbanszky, a member of the Calendar Committee, said, “We’re just looking at possible school year calendars and different criteria that should be taken into account when a school year calendar is decided. Any changes are on the table.”

Similar to the district reevaluating the graduation requirements every 2 years, the calendars are reevaluated every 10 years. “The last time major changes were proposed was back in 2007, so following the ten year cycle, changes are being discussed this year… It’s part of the normal cycle for a school district to go through,” said Verbanszky.

According to Verbanszky, another reason why changes for the school calendar are currently being discussed is because “a lot of the surrounding districts are starting to make changes so we’re starting to see if there is a reason for that. If there is a reason for school districts to change their calendars, should we also be looking into that.

The district’s teacher’s union, the Acalanes Education Association (AEA), comprised of all certificated staff members such as teachers, counselors and librarians, vote annually to approve a school calendar, 18 months before the calendar is implemented. “Our teacher’s union has the right to vote on any calendar that is adopted… so we’ve already voted on the calendar for the 18-19 school year,” said Verbanszky.

Although the AEA have not voted yet on the 2019-2020 calendar, Verbanszky hopes that any changes that are made in the calendar are implemented to specifically help students. “I’m open to change. I think the priorities for the calendar should be addressing students’ academic needs and student stress and how we can hopefully foster the best environment for students to learn,” she said.

Biology teacher Rene Gillibert said that shifting 1st semester finals before winter break would “give us more school days before the AP, for my AP Biology class, which will be nice. I think ending the semester before winter break will be nice as well.”

However, junior leadership member Sarah Carrasco said, “I think that the calendar should not be changed. While it would be beneficial to have finals before winter break, you also face the problem of shortening the summer by about 2 weeks. And from a student’s perspective, it’s kind of not a big deal to have finals after winter break.”

A vote on the 2019-2020 academic calendar will take place in 2018 after the committee crafts a few different options for the AEA to consider.