The Palo Alto Unified School District Board will gather to vote on proposed changes to the start date of the school year, as well as other changes, on Dec. 10.
The vote is between two schedule choices for the next three school years. One option would move the first day of school to start on a the beginning of a full week, Monday Aug. 18, rather than the current calendar date, Thursday Aug. 14. It would also add a long weekend to March make up for the time off school lost in the 1st semester.
The second option nearly maintains how the school calendar works now. School would still start the Thursday of the second full week of August, but there would also be a long weekend in October.
Changing the start date to the beginning of a full week implies several changes. The first week would consist of all “C” days, meaning five days of seven periods, rather than the current two-day-long week of “C” days. Also, the three days of preparatory events on the days before school starts would have to move to either the week or weekend before the first week of school. These preparatory days include Link Crew training, freshman orientation, and photo days. The last week of school would once again be on the first week of June, rather than the last week of May, like it has been since the finals week calendar change last year.
The options for the extra days off in March or October both have similar effects, taking place during times of the year generally considered stressful. With the current calendar, March is notorious for its stretch of regular, five day weeks until Spring Break at the very end. Late October can be particularly stressful for seniors trying to tackle early college applications.
When the two options were first presented to the School Board by the Calendar Committee, the the majority of the School Board approved of the choice to start school on Monday Aug. 18. The biggest reason behind choosing to start later would be to give more time off in August, when many families are traveling.
“A lot of people in the school district would like the start date to be … as late as possible because they like vacation in August,” Parent Teacher Student Association President Rebecca Fox said.
Later, the PTSA voiced its disapproval of the first option in a letter to the School Board, the Calendar Committee and Superintendent Kevin Skelly after the PTSA Executive Board voted on its stance on the changes. The PTSA said the current schedule works well to ease students into the school year, with the preparatory events starting Monday and the short school week starting Thursday.
“Moving the start date earlier makes the transition more comfortable,” Fox said.
Starting later in August would also shorten the first semester again, even if by only a few days, which already happened after the decision to move finals before Winter Break. However, unlike the finals week change, the School Board is confident the length of summer break before the year would not change with the new start date.
The decision will be made in an open School Board session at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday Dec. 10 in the Board Room of the Administration Building.