TTUSD students will return to school before Labor Day holiday
School will begin a week before Labor Day next year, but questions persist about whether the district should begin school before or after the holiday.
“Most of the parents want it after Labor Day,” said Dan Collins, of Truckee and one of just a couple of parents speaking on the issue last Thursday at a meeting of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Board of Trustees.
District administrators recommended to the board that school begin before Labor Day for educational reasons.
“You’re more alert and paying attention at the beginning of the year than at the end. The educational value of the days in June are less than in August,” said TTUSD Superintendent Pat Gemma.
Most school districts begin before Labor Day, added Assistant Superintendent Jim Abbott.
Yet, Ashley Whaley, the student school board member, said most high school students would rather begin school after Labor Day.
“Just starting in August kind of stinks,” said Whaley. “I don’t mind going further in June; you already have two weeks there.”
Students working in jobs supporting the summer tourist economy were considered at the board meeting, as well as the impact on area businesses of the student work force quitting jobs to go to school before August ends.
“August is guaranteed nice weather. June is iffy,” noted school board member Cindy Gustafson.
Another factor is that students who miss the first week of school will affect state funding for the district, while students who miss the last week of school don’t affect funding, Gemma said.
“We do lose money if we start early and don’t lose if we start late,” said school board member Karen Van Epps.
The teacher’s union recommended that school begin before Labor Day, while the classified employees union of bus drivers, secretaries, etc. were in favor of school beginning after Labor Day, according to Abbott.
However, an informal survey of North Tahoe teachers organized by North Tahoe Middle School band teacher Dean Nordby showed different results.
The results of his informal tally showed that the following were in favor of starting school after Labor Day: 60 percent of the high school teachers, about 100 percent of NTMS teachers, 100 percent of Tahoe Lake School teachers, two-thirds of Kings Beach Elementary School teachers, all but one Rideout Elementary School teachers and about two-thirds of Truckee’s Sierra Mountain Middle School teachers.
In a survey sent home recently with students, there were 867 parents who said school next year should begin after Labor Day and 526 who said school should begin before Labor Day. Most of the parents who responded to the survey were parents of elementary school students, according to Verna Painter, TTUSD executive secretary.
With only three of the five board members present, Gustafson, Van Epps and Patricia Gibbons-Johnson voted to approve next year’s school calendar starting before Labor Day, but try to gather more teacher, student and community input on starting after Labor Day.
The issue will be brought to the May 5 school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Tahoe Lake School.
The school survey also asked parents if they wanted to keep Ski Skate Week, a week holiday in February. Parents overwhelmingly wanted to keep the week, 1032 to 281.
“The vast majority want Ski Skate Week,” Gustafson said.
With this mandate, the school board approved the schedule for Ski Skate Week in 2000-2001 for Feb. 19-23 and for 2001-2002 for Feb. 18-22, which will coincide with the second week of the Winter Olympic Games in Utah.
Parent Kathy Krauss asked if the week could be moved to a week that is less busy with tourists because “one of the purposes of Ski Skate Week is to enjoy the area.” But the school district is tied to that week because it can use both Washington and Lincoln’s holidays as part of the week, Abbott explained.
The board also consented to a spring break that is based upon a teaching schedule rather than when Easter falls on the calendar.
An interrupted block of time is needed by teachers before the end of school so they can prepare their students for a state test and administer it, Abbott said.
Spring break would coincide with Easter in 2001, but come before Easter in 2002 and after Easter in 2003.
2000/2001 school year calendar
School begins Aug. 28 and ends June 13*
Labor Day Sept. 4
Veteran’s Day holiday Nov. 10
Thanksgiving Break, Nov. 22-24
Christmas break, Dec. 18-29
New Year’s Day, Jan. 1
Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 15
Ski Skate Week, Feb. 19-23
Spring break, April 15-20
Memorial Day, May 28
* Snow days will be added if necessary
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