Friday, July 19, 2013

An Open Letter to Superintendent Marten re: 2013-14 Year-Round School Calendar

Dear Superintendent Marten,

     As a parent at Birney Elementary, a year round school, I am writing to express my disappointment in the year round calendar for the 2013-2014 school year and respectfully request the Board of Education to re-evaluate it.
  • ·        Right now, there are three furlough days in June, two during the week of June 16th, one during the week of June 23rd. Combined with the Fourth of July holiday the following week, this creates undue hardship for many families who will have to arrange special childcare for three straight weeks.
  • ·       The furlough days in June take valuable time away from testing preparation. While the standard school year students are getting solid five-day weeks of preparation time during their testing window, the year-round students must contend with holidays and furlough days to schedule both preparation and testing, presenting year-round with unfair disadvantages. Surely the furlough days in June could be moved so that all students are given the same chances for success regardless of whether their schools are standard or year round schedules.
  • ·       The school year is set to end on Monday, July 21st. Attendance will suffer, and funding along with it. Having that last day as a Monday will also present challenges to parents trying to provide child care, camp or other summer instructional experiences to their children since many of those programs run on a Monday through Friday schedule. Parents will be forced to decide between skipping school or throwing away the cost of a day’s experiences; children will miss out on the year’s closure or their first day’s instruction. Since most camps and classes have closed by early- to mid-August, this seems to unfairly punish year round students who would seek extracurricular enrichment. Ending the school year on the previous Friday (by moving a vacation day from spring break to the end of the year) would benefit everyone and provide a more satisfying end to the school year.

I know that you and the Board of Education want to provide my child with the same opportunities for success and academic achievement as the children at standard year schools. Some ways of modifying the calendar which would eliminate any perceived discrimination against year round schools and better help the staff and students reach their full academic potential are:
  • ·       Move some or all of the June furlough days to June 23, June 24, and June 25, out of the testing window. Students and staff will be able to focus on academic achievement and not keeping track of the chaotic off again, on again schedule. Parents will only have to arrange for special child care for one week.
  • ·       Move some (but not all) of the furlough days to the end of the year round spring break: April 29, April 30, or May 1 and move the rest out of the testing window. Please do not leave us with any one-day weeks since our attendance will suffer.
  • ·       Move one vacation day from spring break to the end of the school year to allow school to end on a Friday.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I know you want all children and families in the SD USD to thrive. I hope we can be partners in making the 2013-2014 year a success.


Kim Schultz

President, Alice Birney Elementary PTA