BY NINA PATEL
This fall, the CUSD Board of Education decided to shift the entire school year a week forward for the 2018-2019 school year instead of accepting the calendar committee’s proposal to end the school year on a Wednesday and have an entire week for Thanksgiving break. This plan is still being considered for years to follow.
The CUSD board met in public sessions on Sept. 18 and Nov. 1, where the school calendar committee proposed taking an entire week off the school year for Thanksgiving and ending school on Wednesday, June 5. This would eliminate any issues with paychecks and retirement benefits among employees, which are determined by the number of months an employee works. With the existing schedule, some of next year’s staff would be working 10 months instead of the typical 11, and thus would lose access to full benefits.
“Because of the way the teachers’ retirement plan counts time of service in months and not years, this would mean that all of our teachers would lose a small amount of their checks each month when they retired someday,” board member John Ellison says. “It also meant that the working year for most employees is now over 10 months and not 11 months. This change would require extensive work in the business office to adjust for the payrolls.”
Ken Griest, chief human resource officer at CUSD, says that having the staff work for only 10 months has been attempted before, but results were found unfavorable and alternate solutions were researched.
“The committee is interested in exploring some alternative schedules that would solve a few issues related to Thanksgiving week,” Griest comments.
It was decided that next year school will start one week later (on Aug. 14) and end one week later (on June 7) to accommodate for any issues, meaning there will be an extra week of summer in 2018. However, it is still undecided whether the calendar committee’s proposal will be implemented in the future and the CUSD board of education is still considering using this plan for the 2019-2020 calendar.
Ellison voiced his concern during the Nov. 1 board meeting when he described that the shift to starting school a week later would give students taking AP classes less time to prepare and will add extra days after the exams are administered, meaning there is no real benefit for the students.
Associated Carmel Teachers president Bill Schrier explained that he has no objections to the any of the plans.
“We are very resistant to change, human beings,” Schrier says. “If there is a good reason to try something or not a bad reason not to try something, let’s do it and see how it works, and then we can always go back.”
CHS principal Rick Lopez explains that this situation arises every few years, when the calendar makes a shift of about a week or so. In regard to the alternative plan, Lopez explains that the two days of school before Thanksgiving break are difficult to deem as beneficial academic days, and while he says he likes the idea of having a full week of Thanksgiving break, he does not like the idea of ending school midweek, despite it not being uncommon among schools.
“I think a lot of people, probably teachers, parents and students alike, might appreciate having that week off because a lot of folks travel,” Lopez says. “It is one of the biggest travel weeks in the year.”
The calendar committee has decided to conduct a survey in the near future to see what options the community prefers for the future.