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Breaking: School board unanimously votes to change school calendar

Jack Shapiro and Phoebe So

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Following a unanimous Board of Education vote tonight, The Palo Alto Unified School District will follow a new school calendar for the next three years.

The new school calendar will feature a later Monday start date for high school students and a Tuesday start date for kindergarten through eighth graders. As a result of the later start date, the school year will end in the first week of June. In addition, a local holiday will occur in March instead of October.

During the meeting, board members discussed two possible school calendars: Calendar Option One, which would feature the late August Monday start date and June end date, and Calendar Option Two, which is similar to the current school calendar with an early August Thursday start date and May end date.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Calendar Committee, out of 418 teachers, 40.9% preferred Calendar Option One, 48.8% preferred Calendar Option Two and 10.3% had no preference. However, the board ultimately decided on Calendar Option One due to a strong parent preference toward the later start date.

“Every single decision about a date in the calendar involves tradeoffs, and I have read the input that I received,” Board President Dana Tom said during the Board meeting. “This is one of the situations where everybody can raise valid points, but they do not mesh together. I think the teachers were fairly evenly split, with a slight preference for Option Two. However, a large majority of parents support Option One. As a result, I support Option One.”

Following the agreement on Calendar Option One, the board again voted 4-1, with Melissa Baten-Caswell abstaining, to allow the Calendar Committee the freedom to reconsider the placement of staff development days in the Calendar One proposal. These changes would not be allowed to alter the calendar in any way for students.

Baten-Caswell added a friendly amendment to the second motion, requesting the Calendar Committee also have the flexibility to move local holidays in the Spring to the Fall, but the amendment was not seconded.

According to senior Addie McNamara, Palo Alto High School’s school board representative, she hopes for changes to be made to assist high school students with school work and college applications.

“I, along with many other Paly students and teachers, supported calendar Option Two,” McNamara said. “Option Two’s Thursday start date makes for an easier transition into the school year and the October break is more important to seniors completing college applications than a break in March. Since the Board has instead voted for Option One with additional investigation from the Calendar Committee, I’m hoping that the committee will be able to move around staff development days to make room for an October break.”

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