By a 5-0 vote, Glendale Unified school board members agreed on Tuesday to push the start date for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years later into August.
The unanimous vote took place after nearly 20 minutes of discussion among board members, with input from district personnel, and three hours after student representatives from Crescenta Valley High School expressed their disapproval.
The changes affect all class levels, from transitional kindergarten to high school.
“A lot of work has gone into this,” Nayiri Nahabedian, board president, said. “We have taken a look at many demands, including student demands, parents, our employees and our teachers. Today … you have the issue of when you start school. You have some folks who want to start early and some who want to start later. With 26,000 students and 2,600 employees, it’s going to be difficult.”
The 2018-19 school year will begin on Aug. 22, while the following school year will commence on Aug. 21.
Those dates fall not too much later than the Aug. 16 start date for the current school year.
Cynthia Foley, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources, said the adjustment will align the two upcoming calendars with the two main goals of the superintendent’s advisory committee — starting the instructional calendar during the third week of August or later and finishing the first semester prior to the winter break.
Moving the start of the school year also means pushing back the final day of school, which for the current school year is June 6. That last day of school will be June 11 in 2018-19 and June 10 in 2019-20.
The switch, Foley said, will allow for 11 weeks of summer vacation in 2018-19 and 10 weeks in 2019-20.
Glendale will also now follow calendars more consistent with neighboring districts. Burbank Unified is scheduled to provide 11 weeks of summer vacation in 2018-19, while La Cañada and Pasadena have 10 weeks.
The number of education days remains at 180, and the system of trimesters for transitional kindergarten to sixth grade and quarters and semesters for seventh through 12th grades is unchanged.
“Finding a calendar that works both with the elementary and trimester and with the secondary and the semester and takes into account heat days for the elementary kids in the summer and the [advanced-placement] tests for the high school kids in the winter and CIF – there’s a lot of pieces that go into it,” board clerk Jennifer Freemon said.
AP tests and CIF sports participation were at the heart of concerns expressed by five Crescenta Valley High students who urged the board to not change the calendar.
Crescenta Valley sophomore Solomon Kim said moving the final school day back even one additional afternoon is detrimental.
“There is a deadline for internships and job opportunities in the summer,” Kim said. “When you move the calendar forward, a lot of these students are going to lose these opportunities to apply at the same time that everyone else is from other districts. Other districts are going to have an advantage when it comes to job opportunities, which is problematic. A lot of work experience is crucial.”
“Finding out that this school calendar will increase my workload over the first semester already put on a lot of stress on me,” fellow Crescenta Valley sophomore Grace Suh said emotionally.
Afterward, Felix Melendez, the district’s executive director of secondary education, and Kelly King, assistant superintendent, went over to comfort Suh.
Board member Armina Gharpetian said the board would check AP scores over the next two school years to see if there is a large enough of a drop to warrant a change back to the previous calendar.
Taleen Arsenian, president of the Glendale Teachers Assn., said she supports the new calendars.
“We appreciate, however, that GUSD and GTA have discussed calendars at the negotiations table to move forward in a collaborative manner,” Arsenian said. “I applaud both bargaining teams for having the difficult conversations necessary to come to an agreement.”