The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to implement the first phase of a four-year $12.2 million plan to shift its 54 year-round schools to traditional academic calendars.
Most of the affected campuses are at the elementary level, though a couple are middle schools. The first schools to be shifted, during the 2015-16 school year, will be Dewey, Ericson, Hancock, Hardy, Jerabek, Johnson, Mason, Miller, Porter, Sequoia, Tierrasanta, Valencia Park and Walker elementaries, and Knox and Farb middle schools.
The initial moves are expected to cost the district around $3 million. The district plans to transition additional schools to traditional calendars in each of the following three years.
“This is not a perfect plan,” Trustee John Lee Evans said. “A perfect plan would be that we would next year put all schools on the same schedule — if we had the money to do it.”
District staff has been studying the transition since last year, and were directed to give priority to campuses that serve military families, and those that feed into middle and high schools with traditional calendars.
Courtney Rizzo, principal of Farb Middle School, said school administrators had been passionate about the schedule change because “it impacts our students’ academic future.”
Military families are often relocated in May or June, which forces parents to pull their children out of classes up to 10 weeks before the end of the year-round session.
“Since schools across the country have ended, students cannot finish their school year somewhere else,” Rizzo said. “Therefore, there are major consequences for students when they are pulled out early.”
Col. John Farnam, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, told the board that service members’ moves between duty stations were timed to line up with traditional school calendars, which causes some to take their children out of school early or enroll them late.
“For military families, the number one family concern is — no matter where we move — is our children’s education,” Farnam said.
The trustees also considered starting the 2015-16 school year on Aug. 31 instead of early September at tonight’s meeting. However, they voted unanimously to maintain the status quo until staffers could look further into the issue. The district normally starts its year after Labor Day. District staffers were given 90 days to return to the board with their recommendations for the 2016-17 academic year.
Also at tonight’s meeting, board members selected Marne Foster as their president and John Lee Evans as vice president. They also approved the first of two state-required financial reports that reflect some uncertainty over the district’s fiscal condition.
The state requires financial declarations of “positive,” in which a district projects that it will be able to pay its bills in the current and the two following fiscal years; “qualified,” reflecting some uncertainty, or “negative,” which says the district will not be able to uphold its obligations.
SDUSD will file a qualified certification because of insufficient information on the spending plan that will be proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown next month.
“If the governor’s budget comes in higher than anticipated, we’ll be able to meet our funding priorities more fully,” Superintendent Cindy Marten said. “If it comes in lower than projected, we will scale back but keep the priorities in place.”
— City News Service